Last year we shared with you that several of the new Android phones coming out in 2011 would come with Near Field Communication chips, and that Gingerbread/Android 2.3 would eventually help facilitate their usage. The NFC chips will offer a wide variety of applications by allowing two NFC enabled devices to 'talk' to each other and share information when near each other. The prime example was a 'digital' credit card built-in to your phone for retail transactions handled more easily electronically.

Unfortunately, at that time, Gingerbread could not handle all of the functionality that is required to really take advantage of NFC tech. Google announced today in their developers blog, that the newest Gingerbread update, 2.3.3 will soon be released, and it opens up the remaining features of the NFC chip allowing it to eventually reach its full potential. Soon we will be able to start using our Android phones as our 'digital wallet' once more retail stores start adopting the technology.

To be clear, the NFC enhancements weren't the only improvements made to Gingerbread. Google also improved Bluetooth, Graphics, Speech Recognition, and Media APIs. Of course, the only phone that sports the NFC chip in the retail channel at the moment is the Nexus S, but again, many of the newer phones coming out later this year will have the chip on board. For more info, here's a link to the full 2.3.3 Android SDK.

Source: Android Developers Blog