An Introduction To Near Field Communication (NFC)

We believe NFC will become a universally programmable trigger that will help in automating all kinds of stuff

NFC is a term which is popping up all over the mobile industry these days. This technology started out as being restricted largely to commercial use. It was used extensively for wireless payments, in heavy vehicles, toll booths, employee access cards etc.

As to what NFC really is, its name is a big giveaway — Near Field Communication means the interaction of two NFC enabled devices when they’re near each other. This interaction occurs over radio frequencies. In the case of smartphones, NFC is primarily associated with data transfer and file sharing. Let us have a closer look at how to use NFC for all it’s capable of.

Data Sharing/ Beaming

Whenever you want to beam content (share pictures, photos, apps, contact cards, webpages even YouTube videos!) between two devices, ensure that both are NFC enabled and both have NFC turned on (different brands call NFC by different names, though they all do largely the same thing). Also, ensure that neither of them are asleep or locked. When you touch them, you’ll normally receive an audio and/or haptic feedback.

For beaming data using NFC:

  • With NFC switched on, open the content (file, webpage etc.) to be beamed on your device (Contacts, pictures, media, webpages etc.) .
  • Place both devices back to back and you’ll get audio or haptic feedback telling you that the devices have detected each other.
  • The senders screen will shrink and it’ll say something like ‘Touch To Beam’.
  • Accept sending or receiving the file from one of the devices
  • You’ll hear a beep when the beaming starts. The other side will be notified as soon as the beaming is done.

Keep in mind, whenever you share an app, a webpage or a YouTube video, you send the other person the respective URLs and not the page/ app/ video itself.

NFC Tags

NFC Tags are another application of Near Field Communication in the world of smartphones. An NFC Tag is a programmable NFC chip which can be embedded in posters, cards, key-rings, pens, wristbands etc. It has a small memory unit within it and depending on it’s size, it can store a web URL or phone settings or any other app settings you want.

For programming and using a NFC Tag, you need a NFC Tag reading and writing app like NFC Task Launcher which is easily available in the Play Store (there are other variants in almost every OS’ App Store. Using such apps it is easy to ‘Save & Write’ settings you want toggled to the NFC Tag. As an example, you can program a NFC Tag with the name ‘ Work’ to automatically make the following changes on your phone: Turn Mobile data off, turn WiFi on, turn GPS off, put the phone in silent or vibration, and reduce display brightness.
 Just tap the card to your phone’s back when you enter office and everything is done instantly!

How does it work?

We’ve spent time reading up on NFC, and wrote an article in simple English for you to get an idea on how NFC really works. Read it here: What Is NFC And How Does It Work?

NFC-Tags1 (1)

As of today, NFC is still a nascent feature though — even though many smartphones are equipped with it, the extent of it’s applicability is limited to sharing small files, launching tasks, toggling settings etc.

Yet, we’re convinced that NFC is a technology up for a lot of development in the future. It has tremendous potential and can be built to integrate with other wireless transfer technologies and devices. The biggest fillip NFC has received yet is through Apple Pay (but that’s restricted to iDevices and the cluster of merchants that accept it). As more and more brands and developers work to harness its potential, we believe NFC will become a universally programmable trigger that will help in automating all kinds of stuff we will be doing with our smartphones in the future! To see how its already being used in the real-world, read up on our brilliant article “Exploring The Utility Of NFC Technology”, you’ll be amazed.


Originally published at Chip-Monks.