There are certain things you do on your phone every day, like launch navigation when you get in your car, or set your alarm when you go to bed. With a few NFC tags and almost no effort, you can automate these processes and never fiddle with your phone again.
This process uses Near Field Communication (NFC). You've probably even seen it in commercials, where people share playlists and perform other actions just by touching their phones together. Those uses haven't really caught on, but NFC tags will work anywhere -- they're basically tiny stickers, keychains and other trinkets that perform tasks when you tap them with your phone.
Not all phones have NFC capabilities, but many of them do, including most newer Android phones from manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Google's Nexus line. Before you continue, Google your phone to see if it has NFC built-in. We're going to focus on Android phones in this post, but some Windows phones might also have NFC built-in, so you can use this post as inspiration. Sadly, the iPhone currently does not have NFC, so iPhone users are out of luck.
What You'll Get
When you're done, you'll have a few small stick-on tiles placed strategically around your house, car, office or anywhere else you want. Holding your phone up to one of these tags will perform a simple action right away, so you don't have to constantly fiddle with settings. For example, you could:
- Turn on your ringer and Wi-Fi when you return home
- Turn off the ringer and set your alarm when you go to bed
- Start the Maps app and turn on Bluetooth when you get in your car
- Launch your remote control app when you sit down on the couch to watch TV
- Set a timer for 30 minutes when you put your clothes in the laundry
- Start playing music or skip tracks
- Check in to Foursquare, Facebook or Google Latitude at your current location
...all with a quick tap of your phone. No need to open any menus or tweak any settings yourself.
Some of you Android fans may recognise some of these ideas as things you can automate with Tasker, and that's true. Apps like Tasker can do similar things based on location, what networks you're connected to and the time of day. What's great about NFC tags is that they allow you do perform similar tasks in situations where Tasker isn't as good at automating. For example, Tasker doesn't always know when you're in your car, or when you sit down to watch TV. In those cases, these little NFC tags are perfect. In fact, with this method, you can even launch a Tasker task by placing your phone next to an NFC tag, so the two work phenomenally well together.
Step 1: Get Some NFC Tags
To start, of course, you'll need to pick up some NFC tags (usually for a dollar or two apiece) that you can program with your desired actions. You'll find a number of different brands out there, but both NFC Wireless tags and Samsung TecTiles are popular. We used the Samsung tags for this tutorial, but you can use another brand if you so choose. Most tags come in a number of forms too, like stickers, keychains and more.
Step 2: Download NFC Task Launcher
Some tags (like Samsung's) will come with their own app, but we're going to use a better, third-party app called NFC Task Launcher. It's powerful, easy to use and completely free, so once you've got your NFC tags, grab a copy of Task Launcher for your phone of choice.
Step 3: Create Your Tasks
Assigning tasks to your NFC tags is incredibly easy. Here's what you need to do:
- Open up NFC Task Launcher and tap "Create a New Task".
- Choose NFC as your task Type.
- Tap "Add Actions" to create your task. You have a number of categories and actions to choose from. For example, if you wanted this tag to turn Wi-Fi on, you would tap "Wireless & Networks" and check the "Wifi On/Off" box.
- Click Next when you've chosen your actions and configure them if given a prompt to do so.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 for any additional tasks you want this tag to perform. When you're done, tap "Save & Write".
- Put your phone on top of the NFC tag you want associated with these actions. Your phone will make a sound and notify you when it successfully writes the tag. Press Done to finish.
Repeat this process for all your tags, then peel them off and stick them wherever you perform those actions most often. Here are a few examples of tasks you could perform.
Turn On Wi-Fi and Your Ringer at Home
Let's say you keep your phone on vibrate when you're out of the house, and you turn Wi-Fi off to save a bit of battery. This action will turn those features back on when you get home. Create a new task with these actions:
- Wireless & Networks > Wifi On/Off > Enable
- Sounds & Volume > Sound Profile > Normal
Then, just stick an NFC tag on your front door and you can tap it as you return home.
Silence the Ringer and Set the Alarm at Night
If you're tired of manually setting the volume and alarm every night, create a new task with these actions:
- Sounds & Volume > Sound Profile > Silent
- Alarms > Set Alarm > (Whatever Time You Want)
...and throw an NFC tag on your night stand. Every night you can just stick your phone on your night stand to get the desired result.
Launch Maps and Turn On Bluetooth in Your Car
Whenever I get in my car, I turn on Bluetooth and start up the Maps app. With an NFC tag on the dashboard, I can do all this in just a second by using these actions:
- Wireless & Networks > Bluetooth On/Off > Enable
- Applications & Shortcuts > Open Application > Maps
You can even open specific menus or functions through "App Activities" if your app supports it
Start a Tasker Task
Already got all these functions built into Tasker? You don't need to waste your time creating them again in NFC Task Launcher. Just create a new task and choose "Tasker Task" as your action. You'll be able to launch them by tapping your phone to an NFC tag, giving you one more easy trigger for all those great Tasker automations.
This is just a smattering of ideas, but they give you a good idea of how to use the app and what kinds of things you can do with it. Any time you find yourself doing something on your phone over and over again, just create a task and add it to an NFC tag. You'll never have to deal with those settings again.