What is NFC technology and what can you use it for

Near Field Communication, known as NFC, may seem like a dry tech spec. In many ways it is. However, NFC apps are worth looking at. Android smartphones have had access to NFC for many years, while Apple's iPhones previously had a limited-feature version. However, both platforms use wireless technology for contactless payment, headphone pairing, and a level of automation.

If you want to get the most out of NFC apps, we'll show you how.

What is NFC Communication Technology?

Near Field Communication (NFC) allows wireless communication between two electronic devices that are close to each other. Officially, NFC can support distances of up to 1.5 inches, but in practice, it can go up to 4 inches.

Generally, this comes in two forms. Device to device communication or readable tags. While it is possible to have two devices interact via NFC, there are generally better ways to achieve this either through physical cables or other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.

However, contactless payments are facilitated via NFC. So, when you go to your local store and pay with your phone using Google Pay or Apple Pay, the transaction begins via NFC.

So, the primary method of interaction between a device such as a smartphone and a readable NFC tag is. These signs are small, cheap, and unpowered. This was made possible because the reader, often your smartphone, could create a radio frequency (RF) field that would trigger the tag.

NFC connection compatibility?

Android devices have supported NFC since the early days of the smartphone, but Apple has chosen to withhold support on the iPhone. However, when the company revealed Apple Pay, an NFC-enabled offline payment system, it began to include these wireless chips on iPhones.

Before iOS 11, the company was limited to Apple Pay only. However, iPhone models of iPhone 7 and later running iOS 13 and above now support contactless payments, the ability to read NFC tags, and the ability to write them as well. 

This aligns the mobile platforms with one another, allowing you to use NFC on your Android or iPhone smartphone. However, Android phone specifications vary greatly, so NFC support is not guaranteed. This is especially true at the affordable end of the market, where other features are given priority.

Applications need to work via NFC

If you own an NFC compatible smartphone, you will need to purchase some NFC tags before getting started. There are many types of NFC tags available, ranging from affordable to expensive industrial use items.

To get the most out of the following NFC apps, you'll need to invest in a range of rewritable NFC tags. Although there is a large selection of tags available, Timeskey NFC 10-pack stickers are great value, can be rewritten, and easy to place wherever you need them.

You will also need to download the NFC Tag Writer app on your smartphone. IPhone devices that support NFC can read the tags without additional software, but your experience on Android might vary.

There are many apps on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store that can write tags, one of the best options is NFC TagWriter from NXP. The application is available for both mobile platforms Android | iOS which is easy to use.

Best way to use NFC technology:

Once you have a compatible smartphone, NFC rewritable tags, and you've downloaded the tag writing app, you can then start getting the most out of what NFC has to offer. Since tags can be rewritten, you can try your own automatic setup. However, there are a lot more uses of NFC that you can start with right away.

1. Connect instantly to a Wi-Fi network via NFC

Wi-Fi passwords are long and complicated. This makes connecting to your network a pain. If you prefer to replace this complex one-click process, you can write your Wi-Fi password to an NFC tag. Android and iOS support this feature, so clicking on the flag will pre-fill in the Wi-Fi connection details and get you online without any fuss.

2. Use NFC technology as an alarm to wake up from sleep

Waking up in the morning can be a big challenge. For some people, even the most relentless alarm clock doesn't help. In this case, consider using an NFC tag to motivate you to get out of bed instead. Apps like Sleep As Android combine alerts with NFC tags, by using captchas inside the app.

These are intended to verify that you have acted by making you interact with a physical object. Use the app to write an NFC-based captcha, then the only way to disable the alarm is to get out of bed and find the NFC sticker and tap your phone against it.

3. Direct any user to the website via NFC technology

There might be times when you want to direct someone to a specific website. This can be a little tricky, especially if it's not a simple website address. Instead of them writing a long random URL, you can write the URL into an NFC tag. When clicked, it loads the user's mobile browser and directs it directly to the website you want.

4. Enter driving mode automatically via NFC technology

IPhone users know that when they get into the car and connect to the in-car entertainment system, their phones will automatically enter driving mode. This silences notifications and improves your preparation for your trip. Although some Android smartphones can do this, the majority do not.

If you prefer to automate this process, you can write tasks to an NFC tag. When placed inside the car, a tap on your phone can click actions like enable do not disturb, turn data on or off, and open your navigation app.

Some NFC tag writing apps, like Trigger on Android, allow you to set a toggle to reverse actions. So, the first click will enable driving mode, while the second can disable it and return your phone to normal operations.

5. Using NFC payment services

As mentioned earlier, NFC allows contactless payments when using services like Google Pay or Apple Pay. In many places around the world, contactless payments are becoming commonplace. In fact, in many food stores and stores in the United States, contactless payment is the preferred method of payment.

Both Apple Pay and Google Pay allow you to track your spending, analyze your habits, and store coupons. Plus, choosing NFC payments means you no longer need to carry other payment methods alongside your phone.


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