(Source: www.forbes.com)

This morning in Detroit, Honda revealed the all-new 10th-generation Accord sedan and while pretty much everything about it looks like a good upgrade from the outgoing model, little was truly surprising. There was however one little detail in senior vice president Jeff Conrad’s presentation that caught my attention. On the dashboard of the new Accord, to the left of audio system is a little stylized N. Buried beneath that subtle logo is a near-field communications (NFC) tag that will make your life just a little bit easier if you happen to use an Android smartphone.

In California and increasingly in other states, it’s illegal to do anything that requires actually touching your phone while driving. Thus, wireless Bluetooth connectivity between the phone and car is essential if you want to take or receive calls or play your music. However, if you’ve ever tried to pair your phone with the car when you get a new device or a new car, you may have found the process frustrating.

That’s where NFC comes in. Most of the smartphones built in recent years aside from some of the least expensive models include an NFC chip. It’s the technology that makes tap-to-pay systems like Apple Pay and Android Pay work. When you tap your phone on a reader at the checkout to pay for your coffee or groceries, the reader is authenticating you through that NFC chip.

Android phones first started getting NFC chips in 2010, but Apple didn’t add the technology until the 2014 iPhone 6. Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t make the NFC chip accessible to any apps except for Apple Pay which is too bad because NFC is capable of so much more. For years, nerdy Android users (myself included) have purchased NFC tags online that can be programmed for a variety of uses such as automatically logging in to a WiFi access point or pairing to a Bluetooth device. There have been Bluetooth speakers available for years that have NFC pairing.

Honda is the first mainstream automaker to include an NFC tag built in to one of its vehicles. If you have an Android phone, the first time you get in the car, you can just tap it on that little logo on the dashboard and instantly pair to the car’s Bluetooth.

It’s a subtle feature that most people probably won’t ever use more than a handful times, but it’s a really thoughtful one. There are rumors that the next version of iOS coming later this year may unlock additional NFC functionality for iPhones, but at least for Android users, hands-free calling is now at least a little bit easier.

The author is a senior analyst on the Transportation Efficiencies team at Navigant Research and co-host of the Wheel Bearings podcast

More Info: www.forbes.com

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