♪♪ NFC, it’s easy as 1, 2, 3… ♪♪

 

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.

 

Rob

kayaker co-pilot Tucson, it's a dry heat!

  • Hassaan Qureshi

    Leap does not have NFC

    • Robert Friedman

      Hassaan Qureshi-

      Thanks for keeping me honest – you are correct, the Leap does not have NFC.

  • Roy shpitalnik

    I don’t use it much, Not enough services that support it in my country.

    • Robert Friedman

      Roy- it used to be that way here too but things have changes a lot over the past couple years

  • zensen

    I personally love NFC and don’t use it enough.

    It mainly gets used on my audio devices like my soundbar and headphones.

    This was a great read and wouldn’t mind exploring NFC tags in this way.

    I love technology that includes NFC. The only concern I have is with credit/bankcards. Can’t turn them off

    • BlueTroll

      Actually, I would prefer to have my banking done through my device. You CAN turn off the NFC on your device, but the passive RFID chips on your debit and credit cards are always “on”, transponding to anything that will suck up the info.

      • Robert Friedman

        If you’re worried about someone ‘stealing the data off of a banking/credit card you can use RFID protected sleeves or an RFID protected wallet.

  • BlueTroll

    So, could you set up an NFC tag to set phones to silent or meeting mode and another to return to normal? Then you could place them at the doorway to meeting rooms and have people swipe their device to turn them silent and swipe again to turn on. Would that work? I’m thinking you’d need one set for Android and one set for BB10. No point in making one for iOS as their NFC is hobbled.

    • Robert Friedman

      BlueTroll-
      You could actually use just one tag and set it to ‘Toggle’ so it would turn Notifications off and on. You could use one for android and another for BB10.

      Easy Peasy!

  • Robert Friedman

    As an FYI- NFC can also be used to share pictures, Music, Movies, Business cards, etc…
    For this type of sharing no tag is required!

  • anthogag

    I use an NFC tag to pair my Passport to a bluetooth bookshelf speaker system.

    I use NFC for mobile payments. Often, when I buy something with my Passport, I get a “is that a new phone?” comment. “No, it’s almost 2 years old” o/

    I use NFC to transfer files between phones.

    The most annoying thing about using NFC is turning it off and on. I can’t make a keyboard shortcut to turn it on/ff and there is no setting to automatically turn-it-off after a few minutes.

  • leverspro

    Thank you for explaining something that I’ve never understood. I’m still a little confused. How can a little tag with a sticky back do anything-like turn on a stereo? The tag only makes the smartphone due something, correct? So it’s manipulating apps on the phone which in turn are controlling various other devices? And then only when the phone is pushed up close to the tag (walking through a doorway with a tag on the door and a phone in your pocket would do nothing?)

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