You know NFC. It’s that feature on your phone you know you’ll totally find a use for some day. Well, today is that day.
Most modern Android handsets have an NFC antenna built in (sorry, iPhone users, but Apple has said no, once again). For most of the things we’ll be talking about here, you’ll need some form of NFC tag. You can buy them fairly inexpensively online. For example, Tags for Droid sells packs of NFC stickers and keychains, but any tag with a writeable chip will do.
Turn on Your Computer When You Get Home
Waiting for your computer to start up when you get home is yet another drag in an evening that’s already wearing you down. However, leaving your machine on all day just to save yourself a few seconds will cost more than it’s worth. Reddit user Captainmathmo solved this problem with an NFC tag he can tap to remotely turn on his computer as soon as he gets home.
The process requires Tasker, a Wake on LAN Android app, and a PC that has support for Wake up on LAN. You can find the detailed instructions over on the reddit thread here. Once that’s done, set an NFC tag somewhere inside your home that you can tap as you enter.
Activate Wi-Fi Tethering
Sure, it might not be that difficult to dive into your phone’s settings and activate Wi-Fi tethering (if you have it available), but who has the time? If you want to make it a little easier to work remotely, you can create an NFC tag that will automatically launch tethering. NFC Task Launcher can be used to write to a tag for this purpose.
Share Your Wi-Fi Password with Guests
If you’re like me, your Wi-Fi password is as long and complicated as your sordid and mysterious past. Rather than hand your guests a slip of paper with a bunch of case-sensitive characters scribbled on it, write the password to an NFC tag.
There are a couple of ways to go about this. InstaWifi can be used to easily share Wi-Fi passwords directly via NFC. The downside is that this requires all your guests to have InstaWifi installed. Downloading an app just to share a bit of text is a drag, so this really only works if everyone you know is doing it too. Alternatively, you can embed a single tag with your Wi-Fi password, and your guests can read it with most NFC read/write apps. If your friends don’t have one of those (like the aforementioned NFC Task Launcher), that should at least be an easier sell.
Enter Driving Mode When You Dock Your Phone
Car docks are a relatively cheap way to make your phone easier to use for things like navigation while you’re behind the wheel. An NFC tag can be stuck to the dock so that it automatically launches tasks or apps you need. You can use NFC Task Launcher (again!) to automatically trigger navigation to a pre-specified address, or to launch your music app and set the media volume to a preset level.
If you don’t want to stick an NFC tag to your car dock (for example, if you happen to share the car with another person), this is also a great time to use an NFC keychain. It doesn’t require you to carry any extra items, and placing the keychain against your phone on the way to the car couldn’t be easier.
Share Contact Information
Business cards are so 20th century. With modern smartphones and constant data sync across virtually everything we do, there’s almost no reason for us to manually enter phone numbers anymore. You can share your own contact info with another Android device by opening up your contacts app, tapping on your own entry (if your phone’s app doesn’t use one, create one), pressing your phone against the other and “beaming” it across.
While this method is hardly time-consuming, there are still occasions where you don’t want to stop someone and explain why they need to press their phone against yours. In that case, you can pass off NFC tags pre-programmed with your contact info and let them input it at their own pace. On a very simple level, you can buy NFC tags in bulk for cheap. If you want to get fancy though, you can get business cards with NFC built in. While this may seem redundant, it can be a nice way to grab someone’s attention, as well as add include a bit more info than you’d otherwise be able to print on a card.
Launch Tasker Actions
It would be outside the scope of this article to go over everything that you can do with Tasker, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that you can trigger all of them with NFC tags. To do this, you’ll need to create tasks in Tasker and enable “Allow External Access” in Tasker’s preferences (under Misc). Once that’s done, you can use (care to take a guess?) NFC Task Launcher to trigger any named task.
All of these actions can make NFC useful on your device. However, don’t forget that even basic Android functionality allows you to pass links, photos, contact info or just about anything else between two devices simply by tapping them together. We may forget it’s there, but NFC is a handy little thing to have around.