Google has discontinued NFC Smart Unlock, a feature that allowed users to unlock their Android phones with NFC smart devices.
And the worst part: The feature was killed without warning or explanation. NFC Unlock is still listed as an active feature in the Nexus and Pixel device manuals, and Google has issued no official statement on the matter.
NFC (near-field communication) devices are able to interact wirelessly with other devices (such as smartphones, computers, or electronic locks) while within four centimeters of each other. Devices like the NFC Ring can play dual roles as a fashion accessory and a key to unlock smartphones and tablets.
But no longer. Earlier this month, several Android users reported that they were unable to use the feature. After several weeks of confusion, a Google employee responded that “SmartLock NFC Feature has been deprecated for new users.” The employee did not respond to many subsequent requests for an clarification.
Transparency issues aside, Google’s move to eliminate NFC functionality is somewhat surprising. Over the past few years, NFC has proven to have potential in a wide array of areas, from transportation to medicine, and even jewelry.
And now that smart rings are partnering with major credit card companies to expand their influence, Google will probably have a lot of angry executives, as well as Android users, to contend with.