How to Transfer Data with NFC
Nowadays, NFC has almost become a standard configuration in most smartphones, yet users often get confused regarding its usage. NFC works by establishing a connection between the phone and another NFC device and transfers small amounts of data in seconds.
This technology often works with NFC tags, coin-sized circuits that can interact with NFC-enabled devices, and can store bits of data (precisely up to 1KB of data). These tags can be programmed to perform specific action upon scanning.
Let me take an example. I have an NFC tag on the bedside, scanning it with my phone turns off the phone’s Wi-Fi and puts the ringer to silent, which usually would take 15-20 seconds to carry out by hand. With an NFC tag, this takes just a second!
NFC tags are readily available on the web and are usually cheap. The common type of NFC tags (Mifare classic 1K) is compatible with most smartphones, but some phones require slightly different type of tags so it’s wise to do the research before ordering. Before you use the tag, the first thing to do is to make sure that NFC is enabled on your phone, and look for the proper app to program those tags.
For Android, one of the best apps for this purpose is ‘NFC Task Launcher’, and for Nokia Lumia phones that support NFC, the ‘Nokia NFC Writer’ app works the same way.
In order to program a tag, open the app, create a new task, and add the actions that should be executed when the tag is scanned. The app will then prompt you to touch the NFC tag to the back of your phone. As soon as you do so, the information will be written to the tag, and it will be ‘programmed’. The next time you or someone else scans the tag, it will execute the programmed action on the corresponding phone.
You might have heard of ‘Android Beam’ in some recent Android phones like the Galaxy S3. It’s a fast way of transferring links and other data to (and from) another phone, all thanks to NFC. Just touch both the phones back to back, confirm sending, and the data will be transferred. In case of small data (links, text, etc.), the communication and data transfer is carried out via NFC only. If large data such as photos or music is being sent, touching one phone to the other initiates a paired Bluetooth connection (it’s Wi-Fi in case of S-beam), and the file is transferred via Bluetooth afterwards. This saves the hassle of turning Bluetooth on manually, pairing both phones, and sending the file.