Near Field Communication (NFC) is very useful for data transfer between two computers. Whether you’re sending photos, videos, and files or making a payment, NFC can make this easy. Yet how do you use it, and how does it work? We’ll lead you through the important things you need to know about ‘How to use NFC on Android’.
What does NFC mean?
The technology’s name gives off how it actually works. You have two NFC-capable computers, and they can communicate with each other if they are close to each other (i.e., “close” to “fields” of each other). Communication takes place via radio frequencies. Check out our other extended NFC summary for more information and how it operates.
NFC is mostly sold in the mobile scene as a data-sharing device and method of payment. The inclusion of NFC on an Android device also allows for reading and/or writing to programmable NFC tags by the same user.
Does your Android hold NFC?
On more or less every high-end phone out there, NFC is available, but it is not available on all mid-range or entry-level handsets. One of the ways to check if your phone has NFC is to look for NFC printing, which is usually found somewhere behind the screen. On certain Samsung phones, printed on the battery pack, you will see “Near Field Communication.” This only applies to older phones, however, as most new models don’t have a removable back.
On some devices — especially Sony Xperia devices— you’ll observe the N-Mark on the back part of the body, the official symbol that indicates NFC-enabled device is. The N-Mark also shows exactly where the NFC chip is situated.
Alternatively, you can bypass all the fiddling hardware and just search the Settings menu for your phone:
- Tap “Settings” on your Android device
- Select “Connected Apps”
- Click “Link Settings”
- See the options “NFC” and “Google Beam.”
These two choices could be stored in a separate folder depending on your computer. If you cannot find them, open the menu of settings, tap the search icon at the top and enter “NFC” The NFC option should show up if your phone has it.
How to Activate NFC:
If your Mobile has NFC, you need to disable the chip and Android Beam so you can use NFC:
- Firstly, Click “Settings” on your Android device.
- Choose “Connected Devices.”
- Select “Link Preferences.”
- See the options “NFC” and “Android Beam.”
- Switch the both on.
N.B: NFC features for Smartphones run in conjunction with Android Beam. If Android Beam is disabled, NFC sharing capability may be limited.
Android Beam Going Away!
Google has announced that Android Beam will cease to exist in Android Q. Currently, the search giant is working on a workaround called Quick Share, which is apparently close to the Files By Google app’s local file sharing feature — read more here.
Data Sharing Through NFC:
You already use it for beaming data when NFC is enabled. For efficient data sharing, take note of the following:
- NFC and Android Beam must be enabled for both the sending and receiving apps.
- Neither system should be sleeping or locked.
- When the two systems hear each other, you’ll get both audio and haptic feedback.
- Do not remove your devices until the beaming begins.
- You will hear audio feedback upon successful beaming of the file or content.
Any content or data you want to share via NFC (e.g. images, contact information, web pages, videos, games, etc.) — and irrespective of whether you beam from a phone or tablet to a tablet or phone— the default way to beam content remains the same:
- Ensure that both devices have NFC switched on.
- Open the sharing file.
- Place the backs of both tools against each other.
- Wait for confirmation from the sound and the haptic that both instruments sensed each other.
- See the screen of the sender shrink into a thumbnail, and reveal “Press to display” at the edges.
- To start beaming, tap the screen of the sender. As beaming begins, you’ll hear a sound.
- You’ll hear audio confirmation when the beaming is complete. You will also receive either a message that the beaming has been completed or the required handler app will activate the beamed material and open it.
Do not share the APK of the user through NFC. Instead, the computer of the sender only beams the Play Store page of the app, and it is opened by the receiver unit, ready for download.
Web content sharing and information
Web pages sharing through NFC does not send out the web page itself. Rather, it just sends the URL to the web page and the other device opens it to the default web browser.
YouTube video sharing
Similarly, YouTube video-sharing does not share the video file. It does, however, direct the YouTube app of the receiving phone to the video.
Sharing contact information
The contact info will be automatically saved to the phone book of the user when sharing a contact via NFC.
It’s a breeze to send photos over NFC. Open the image you want to send, place the backs of both devices against each other and when prompted, tap on the screen. The receiving device will then receive a notification of the completion of the transfer— tap it to open the file.
Using NFC Tags
In addition to sharing content with other NFC-capable devices, you can also use NFC to configure the settings for your phone or tablet with just one tap. You can do this by tapping against a programmed NFC tag on an NFC-capable device.
An NFC tag is an unpowered NFC device, small enough to be inserted in items such as posters, movie passes, business cards, bottles of medicine, stickers, wristbands, key fobs, markers, hang tags and more. The microchip can store small chunks of data, which an NFC-compatible computer can read. The various NFC tags have different memory capabilities. On an NFC tag, you can store various data types, such as a URL, contact info, or even commands and settings that could be executed by the reading device upon contact.
You will need an NFC tag-reading or tag-writing app, such as the Trigger app, to read data from or write data to such NFC tags. Tags configured using this software can only be read by devices that have installed the same app.
To perform tasks such as opening a web page, configuring phone settings, or even sending a text, you can program an NFC tag by simply tapping the computer against the button. For example, you might want to program an NFC tag for use when you reach the office, where you would need your phone set to vibration mode, Wi-Fi set to on, and inactive Bluetooth. Just tap the back of your device against the programmed tag and the device will perform the programmed tasks onto the tag.
You can encode NFC tags and perform tasks using the Trigger app, or adjust settings such as:
- Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings (including airplane mode, auto-sync, GPS on / off, smartphone on/off data)
- Audio and volume settings (audio profile, ringtone, ring/notification volume, notification tone, media volume, device volume, alarm volume, and ringing volume)
- Screen options (brightness, notification light, auto-rotation, screen timeout)
- Social media (tweeting, check-in via check-in services such as Foursquare, Twitter, Google Latitude, Google Places)
- Messages (auto-sync, sending an email, writing SMS, sending Glympse)
- Applications and shortcuts (open app, close app, open action, pause, open URL / URI, voice text, navigation, dock, car dock)
- Multimedia (start/stop media playback, switch to next media, playback previous media)
- Alarms (set alarm, replay)
- Security (activate lock screen)
- Make phone calls to Samsung-specific modes (block mode, driving mode, power-saving mode)
- Generate Tasker tasks
- To save all the acts/tasks you selected to the NFC tag, simply tap the “Add & Write” button. Then, just tap back the tool against the tag to perform the actions or tasks.
Click here to Buy NFC Tags
NFC is widely used for mobile payments. There are quite a few of them out there, with Samsung Pay and Google Pay among the most popular. Apple Pay is also available but the service is not working with Android devices.
To make payments using your phone, you must first sign up for one of the available payment methods. Samsung Pay is compatible only with Samsung devices, while Google Pay operates on Android 4.4 Kit Kat and higher handsets. You should start making purchases at backed up stores when you’re up and running.
To do so, the first thing you need to do is ensure NFC is allowed. Then hold the back of your device for a few seconds close to the payment terminal and wait until the payment is done.