Never one to follow the herd, BlackBerry has included NFC technology into its’ smartphones since 2011 – starting with the Bold 9900/9930 and Curve 9360. Next it came to BB10 on the Z10, Z30, Q10, Q5, Z3, Leap, and Classic. With Android it is available on the PRIV, DTEK50, DTEK60, and soon the KEYone.
Always on the lookout for ways to extend battery life (and being a bit lazy) I thought I’d look into utilizing the NFC function of my trusty DTEK60. First thing I looked into was the actual NFC tag (aka NTAG) itself. It seems there are many options to consider, will the tag be stuck onto a plastic or metal surface (plastic may yield better results), how much information do you want to write or read from the tag (up to 888 bytes), and what version of tag do you want (ex: NTAG2xx, the higher the number the newer the version). Next up was to download apps and review their functionality and ease of use. Last, it came time to actually write onto a tag and take it out for a test drive.
First, what exactly is Near Field Communication and what can it do? According to the BlackBerry Developer site-
Near Field Communication (NFC) is a very short range radio technology and is used for contactless communication between NFC-enabled devices and tags or cards. It has a range of typically no more than 4 cm and operates at 13.56 MHz. With transfer speeds of 106 Kbps, 212 Kbps, and 424 Kbps, NFC allows the exchange of small amounts of content between two NFC-enabled devices. When two NFC-enabled devices touch or are placed close enough to each other, the devices can read content from, and write content to, each other. The devices can also share files using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection handover. NFC is also used to emulate smart cards to perform transactions such as credit card payment.
While tags come in many different sizes, shapes, colors and materials, the above pic typifies the workings of your standard NFC tag.
Here are just a few of the apps available in Google Play to assist with tag reading and writing (note: NFC Tools PRO is a paid version).
To make tag writing easier I labeled the tags prior to writing, then using the straightforward directions on the app programmed them to toggle WiFi and Bluetooth on and off. The thought process is to toggle both off when leaving the house for work then toggle them on upon my return. These are just #2 examples of the utility. I’ve read about folks who turn off Notifications when they go to bed or turn on the Alarm feature – the possibilities are endless! The best part is the apps are typically free, the tags are really inexpensive at Amazon and the writing part is easy, peasy. No need to worry about battery drain as NFC uses so little juice there is really no need to toggle it off and on.
So there you have it! If you decide to delve into the World of NFC leave us a comment in the Forum and let us know your experience.