When it comes to wireless charging, the Qi standard is probably the first to come to mind. Wireless Qi charging has been around for quite some time, and can be found in many of the smart devices we use every day.

However, there are many smaller electronic devices where Qi charging is either rare or non-existent. This is because smaller devices may not have enough internal space to accommodate a coil large enough to adequately generate power.

That’s why the industry association behind Near-Field Communication (NFC), the technology that enables contactless payments, created the NFC Wireless Charging (WLC) specification.

Announced in May 2020, NFC wireless charging works with significantly smaller antennas than Qi. NFC wireless charging antennas can be less than 1 cm in size and are packaged in a flexible PCB that bends so that they can be squeezed into incredibly tiny smart devices such as headphones, styluses, smartwatches, and tracker tags.

In addition, the same antenna can be used for traditional NFC data transmission, saving even more space. Many smaller, low-power devices (such as tracker tags) already contain an NFC chip for basic data transmission, so replacing it with a single antenna that manages both communication and charging makes a lot of sense.

Despite the fact that NFC wireless charging technology was announced almost four years ago, it has not yet found its way into many commercial products. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the lack of support for the platform by major operating systems such as Android.

However, the upcoming Android 15 update is preparing to add support for NFC wireless charging, which could pave the way for a host of WLC-enabled accessories to enter the market.

Android 15 now supports charging devices using NFC

Android 15 beta1 introduced significant changes to the NFC stack in the operating system. For example, the system app that handles NFC-related events now includes a class called NfcCharging that starts and stops NFC charging, reads charging information sent via NFC, and more.

While the class refers to “version 1.0.0,” this likely refers to the first iteration of Android’s NfcCharging implementation, not WLC 1.0. For context, the NFC Forum announced WLC 2.0 in late 2021, and the only change to WLC 2.0 is that it supports even smaller antenna sizes.

Android 15 now supports charging devices using NFC

One interesting application of NFC wireless charging could be the use of tracker tags. Tracker tags are often too small to fit a Qi wireless charging coil, have tiny batteries that don’t require much charge (WLC can transmit up to 1 W of power over a distance of 2 cm), and already have NFC chips so they can send information about their owner to whoever finds them.

Many tracker tags, such as those compatible with the Find My Device network on Android, already have up to one year of battery life, but some have rechargeable batteries that are not rechargeable.

Support for recharging devices using NFC will make future tag trackers cheaper to maintain and easier to charge. Hopefully, once NFC wireless charging support is implemented in Android, wireless charging will become more common in smaller devices such as headphones, styluses, smartwatches, and tracker tags.