Understanding NFC and Smart tags - Some tips
I just thought I'd bang a little thread together to help people understand and be more flexible with NFC.
NFC means Near Field Communication and allows you to swipe your phone near a tag and have the phone perform some action.
The Smart tags
that Sony provide are simply NFC tags with a certain URI (snippet of code) that the device understands and uses to launch it's built-in app.
You can actually buy any NFC tag and write this code in and it will work the same way as a smart tag so you can save some money by buying generic tags or buy some more flexible or fun types of tag.
Head to this thread
for the code you need and some discussion on where to buy tags in your country. I am in the UK and used the below:
Personally I am using the sticker disks but as you can see there are lots of options like credit card sized tags and wristbands.
Once you have your tags, you need to write them. There is a free app in the market called NFC Tagwriter by NXP
which will do this for you.
There is also a great app called NFC Task Launcher
which not only lets you write tags but also performs actions based on the tags. It's different to the way Sony's smart tags app works because it writes the commands to the actual tag. That means that the tag tells the phone what to do, rather than the phone's app itself. Handy if you have multiple devices.
It is also much more flexible and supports 'profiles' which I will get to shortly.
One of the main things to understand with NFC tags is that they are a one-time
function. You can't, for example, leave your phone laying on one that makes it silent and have it go loud when you take it away. It will simply repeat the silent
action each time it reads the tag
The NFC reader in the device will fire each time you turn on the screen (under ICS you must also unlock) so leaving the phone in range of a tag might cause multiple launches.
To help overcome this 'limitation' NFC Task Launcher supports profiles which means it will perform a different action the second time it 'sees' a tag. This is great for situations like getting in and out of the car or arriving at/leaving work.
NFC Task Launcher also supports Tasker
which is a scripting tool for Android and with these two apps you can set up some very advanced automation. I won't go into how to use Tasker as it is quite a steep learning curve but to whet your appetite, how is this:
When I get in my car, the tag puts my phone on loud, enables bluetooth, starts Car Home and opens maps. When I leave, it closes these and sets the volume to default, it then gets my location and the time and saves it. All this is automatic and means at any time I know when and where I parked my car!
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