It’s a familiar scenario: friends, acquaintances or new business partners meet in person, and want to exchange information to stay in touch. For years we’ve been doing this the traditional way: you tell the other person your phone number and email address, and they key it into their phone’s contact list. Or maybe you email that person your information. It’s a bit inelegant, but one way or another information gets from point A to point B. But emerging technology is about to cut out the middle man and make exchanging information one step easier. Here’s how.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, now available on many smartphones, does away with the tedious task of manually exchanging information. Now, by tapping two NFC-enabled smartphones together, you can exchange just about any digital data with anyone—and increasingly, retail stores are set up to accept payments via NFC.
NFC-enabled Verizon phones
Many new Verizon smartphones are equipped to use “Android Beam,” which is the NFC app built into Android 4.0 and 4.1 operating systems. And Beam allows you to use NFC to exchange data not only with Android devices but also with devices running other operating systems. Click here for an updated list of NFC-enabled devices.
Pay at the counter with a swipe
Many apps already use NFC for a variety of purposes. Its use for financial transactions has garnered much publicity. As early as Fall 2012, select Verizon smartphones will come with Isis Mobile Wallet™, an app that lets you store and swipe everything from credit card payments to loyalty cards from your local grocery store. It’s a true virtual wallet.
Easy file transfer
Information stored on your phone—including photos, videos, documents, music, and personal contact information—can also be transferred easily using apps such as FileBeam, which use NFC. “Live” data, such as YouTube videos you’re watching or web pages you’re viewing, can also be shared using Android’s Beam capabilities, as demonstrated in this brief CNET video.
NFC enables you to automatically connect your phone to NFC-enabled Bluetooth speakers, so that you can play music from your phone simply by tapping your phone to it. You can also tap and connect your NFC-capable smartphone to a powerful hub that plugs into your home audio system.
Using NFC tags
Many people are likely to find user-programmable plastic or paper NFC tags to be NFC’s most useful application. The tags can contain either information (such as your business card info) or instructions to perform actions (launching apps, changing your ringtone, setting alarms, turning GPS on or off, etc.) and even action sequences. When you tap your phone against one of the tags, the actions are carried out on your phone.
The tags are small, inexpensive, and can be carried on your keychain. One convenient use for an information-only tag is storing the access information for your home or business Wi-Fi network, to make it easy for others to join. Stick the tag on a wall or some other convenient spot, and a visitor with an app like WifiTap can touch the tag with their NFC-enabled phone and automatically connect to your network.
In short, NFC can be used right out of the box with Beam, which is already part of Android 4.0 and 4.1. It can also, with just a bit more effort, save you lots of time and energy by automating repetitive tasks.