This post will help you understand how the technology behind NFC on Android exactly works. Find some great ways to make use of the NFC chip that comes built into most Android devices these days and why NFC is the future of wireless technology.
What once was considered a novelty piece of tech that only a handful Android devices flaunted a few years ago, now stands as the present and the future of mobile payments. For those of you who don’t live and breathe technology all day long, NFC is the same technology that helps you pay for your coffee every morning with the touch of a button.
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Ever since Apple embraced NFC in 2014 and released Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay have quickly made their way to countries across the world. But did you know that the tiny NFC chip embedded in your smartphone can do a whole lot more? But before we jump into all the awesome ways to use NFC on Android, let’s find out what this wireless technology is all about.
What is NFC all about?
As the name itself may suggest, Near Field Communication or NFC is essentially a method by which two electronic devices communicate with each other. While the official standards set for NFC allow you to connect devices 4cm apart from each other, the technology can work up to 10cm.
Consider NFC as something closer to a barcode system, which allows the scanner to read the code and identify the product without the need of Wi-Fi, LTE, or even a mobile network connection. However, the “reading” that NFC tags do is not only customizable to a whole new level, but it can be used for far more complex functions than just identifying products.
Does my phone have NFC?
As a rule of thumb, you can expect most major flagship and even mid-range devices to boast an NFC chip under their hood. While Apple devices have been equipped with the NFC chip ever since 2014, they are restricted by the manufacturer to work only for Apple Pay.
If you own an Android device and still unsure of whether your beloved device comes with an NFC chip, there is a way to find out. Depending on your mobile manufacturer, you can find the NFC option in the Settings app hidden under “Wireless & Networks” or “More”. On some devices like the Sony Xperia line-up, you can even find the subtle NFC logo engraved on the back panel.
Things you can do with NFC on Android
While a few handpicked countries enjoy Android Pay and NFC for mobile payments, the rest of you may hate the fact that such a brilliant piece of tech isn’t being put to good use. Regardless of whether you can go grocery shopping with Android Pay yet, there are plenty of mind blowing things that the little NFC chip can do for you.
Add Wi-Fi network with NFC on Android
Don’t you find sharing your long and complicated password with friends quite cumbersome? Having your Wi-Fi password written down on a piece of paper just seems silly and completely beats the point of having it in the first place, so why not make Wi-Fi password sharing more efficient?
This may come as a surprise to many, but the ability to share the password of your saved Wi-Fi network is built right into the Android OS. You will need to write the Wi-Fi password in encrypted form onto an NFC tag, which you can find by dozens online for cheap.
Start off by heading over to the Settings app and enabling the NFC option. You can now go on and tap on the Wi-Fi option in the Settings menu, and scroll down to the Wi-Fi network that you want to share via NFC. Press and hold the Wi-Fi network name and you will see the option to “Write to NFC tag” show up in the pop-up menu.
As an added security measure, you will be asked to enter the password of your chosen Wi-Fi network, and press “Write”. Now place your new NFC tag closer to the back of your Android device and voila! You have a fully functioning NFC tag to share your Wi-Fi password around the house.
NFC alarm that forces you to get out of bed
Not every single one of you is going to appreciate a feature that forces you to drag yourself out of the bed every morning. But those of you who are tired of getting late for work or missing the morning classes here’s something to make your life a whole lot easier. We have already shared our love for the intuitive alarm and sleep monitoring app called Sleep as Android, but there is one sweet feature you may not know of yet.
This app comes with a feature called CAPTCHA that makes it much harder to turn off the alarm. With several options such as solving a math problem, posing for a selfie, scanning a QR or NFC code and more, Sleep as Android is a great way to shake up your oversleeping habit.
Once you have downloaded the Sleep as Android app on your device, head over to the Settings menu and look for “CAPTCHA: Stop Oversleeping” option, tapping on which will bring about several options, including “NFC tag”. Select the option and scan your NFC tag with NFC on Android to create your morning alarm and place it somewhere farther from your bed, like the bathroom or the kitchen.
Every time your alarm starts ringing, you won’t be able to deactivate it until your physically head over to where you have placed the NFC tag and scan it.
Sharing media and files with NFC on Android Beam
The days of sharing media via Bluetooth are long gone, thanks to the nifty feature called Android Beam that is once again baked right into Android. By simply holding two NFC-enabled Android devices back-to-back, you can share photos, videos, YouTube links, map directions and so much more.
Depending on your Android device, you will be able to find the Android Beam option in the same section as NFC (simply use the search function to look for Android Beam). Once you have it enabled, go ahead and do the same on the other Android device and open an image or web link that you would like to share between the two devices.
With the media file or link open on one of the devices, hold the other Android device back-to-back and wait for the following screen to show up:
The next step is pretty self-explanatory, so go ahead and tap on the screen to send the particular file to the other Android device instantaneously. If you come across a file type that you cannot “Touch to Beam”, you can also use the share menu from your file manager and select “Android Beam” to share it with the other device just as you did earlier.
Turn on “Driving Mode” with NFC in your car
If you have a long commute to work and spend the first few minutes in your car configuring the Bluetooth, navigation, and sorting through your favorite music tracks, NFC can automate all of it for you. With a single NFC chip stuck to your dashboard and an amazing app called MacroDroid, you can create your very own driving mode without having to shell out thousands for a new car.
MacroDroid is an automation app that allows you to “trigger” certain apps or Android services when the connected NFC tag is scanned. To get started, tap on the “Add Macro” tab on the main menu and scroll down to find “NFC Tag” from the list of trigger options. On the pop-up menu, select “Write New Tag” and enter the name of your car so you can identify and even configure the trigger easily later on.
Once you get the “NFC Tag Configured” message, go ahead and start adding actions to your newly created trigger from the list. To create a driving mode NFC tag for your car, start off by using the “Bluetooth Configure” action and select “Toggle Bluetooth”.
You can add up to 5 actions to each NFC tag in the free version of the MacroDroid, which should be enough for you to add other actions like “Lanch Application” for triggering apps like the Music Player and Google Maps as soon as you enter the car. Press the check mark at the bottom of the screen and you now have a car-ready NFC tag that will automate your driving mode for you.
Replace your wallet with NFC on Android Pay
It would be a crime not be bringing in the aspect of mobile payment when listing all the uses for NFC on Android. Google Wallet was only recently succeeded by Android Pay and the service is already available across the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, Sweden, and many others.
Once you have downloaded the Android Pay app, you can start off by adding your credit/debit cards, along with other membership cards from Best Buy, IKEA, Walmart, Starbucks and more. Our card details are saved with the Android Pay app and can now be used at all the serviceable stores for quick mobile payment.
Once you have your cart sorted out, simply pull out your Android device, unlock it and place it near the terminal until you see a check mark on your screen. Using the NFC chip built into your phone and the one in the payment receiver, Android Pay will make your mobile transactions quicker than ever.
Create next-gen NFC business cards
The concept of physical communication is lost these days, and almost none of us care enough to carry around business cards that someone may hand over to you at a conference or a meeting. If you often carry around a bunch of business cards and always felt the need for an upgrade, NFC business cards are the future that you want to be part of today!
Imagine pulling out your business card, tapping it next to the person’s phone and having all of your contact details directly transmitted to their phone. Albeit a single NFC business card would cost multitudes more than the paper ones, but since you would need just one for every encounter, you save money in the long run and never have to carry around spare business cards in your wallet.
MOO is one of the rising names in digital printing that offers customizable NFC cards at a reasonable price. Moreover, you can add your personal details and even change them over time if required without having to throw away the business card.
View your public transit card info
Don’t be too surprised to find out that your metro card that you use every single day to get around the city has an NFC chip hidden inside it. Bus and train cards in several major cities across the United States and elsewhere have embraced NFC technology already for customers to pay for their fare.
Admittedly, this cool trick is not available on all public transports systems, but the ones that offer the decryption key to the public can help you pull information off the card. With the help of an app called FareBot, you can fetch the information stored on a transit card such including available balance, trip information, and other details.
Pros of using NFC on Android:
- The versatility of NFC technology makes it suitable for all kinds of industries like banking, transport, entertainment and so much more.
- One-touch payment solutions with NFC is quite possibly the future of online mobile transactions.
- Short-range transmission makes it a safe technology and can also be used to support security apps.
- NFC Tags are fairly cheap, easily pair with Android devices, and can be used for practically any automation purpose around the house and the workplace.
Cons of using NFC on Android:
- Despite the NFC Forum that controls and promotes the use of this technology, there isn’t a gold standard for the use of NFC on mobile payments.
- Although services like Apple Pay and Android Pay are growing rapidly, the growth of NFC for mobile payments is not strong enough to convince merchants to invest in the technology.
What is the future of NFC on Android?
NFC is a technology that is on the verge of exploding into every field of marketing and industry as we speak. Since the tiny chip is easily configurable, readable by almost all current Android devices, and does not require an active power source to work, the possibilities are endless.
Imagine restaurants giving out NFC tags instead of takeaway menus so that you can carry it around as a keychain and have their entire list of special right on your phone when you need them. Some game manufacturers like Disney and Nintendo have already created NFC-based toys that help young ones bring their favorite characters alive by just bringing the phone or tablet closer to them.
While there is a need for a universal security standard to be set for the use of NFC, the positives far outweigh the negative aspects that this technology could potentially hold.
Wrapping it up
Near Field Communication, or NFC is a part of our day-to-day lives, even if it isn’t necessarily obvious. As major manufacturers move towards making NFC on Android a standard technology like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, developers are also showing more and more interest towards creating apps and services that push the limits of what this wireless technology is capable of.
Transferring files from one device to another with the touch of a button, heading over to get groceries at Walmart with just your phone in your pocket, or sharing your contact details like a boss with NFC business cards – which is your favorite way that this technology is put to use? We would love to know what you think about NFC on Android and how you find it to be most useful in your daily routine in the comments section down below.
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August 08 2017