By the time Android 15 releases in Q3 2024, NFC updates might become a modular system component, separate from system updates.
Android, owned by Google, has turned stacks into modular system components before, like Bluetooth and WiFi. That means updates for those stacks come separately from updates for the Android system as a whole.
The advantage of separating certain functions this way is that updates to Android can be released more quickly, since there’s less contained in one update.
This change was noted by journalist Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, who found the proof in the Android Open Source Project. It reads: “Modify protection level for SUBSCRIBE_TO_KEYGUARD. This is needed by NFC stack (which is a platform APK currently, but is planned to become a mainline module in the future).”
Rahman predicted that it won’t be ready in time to apply to Android 14, which will be released in Q3 2023. A beta of that software is already available on some devices. However, the change might be seen in Android 15.
In response to a comment, Rahman noted that this is probably part of an ongoing effort to modularize Android, not an indication that the NFC stack needs to be updated frequently.