Sunday, 21 September 2014

Automate your Android with NFC tags

This blog is going to be different to anythingI've done before. I try and do a blog about what I have learnt each week. This normally comes from work (hence all the Joomla related blogs). However work has been pretty slow. My other option was to write about what I've been learning in Java as I am currently creating a new Android app. The issue with this is that I am still getting used to Java so I'm not yet at a stage where I am comfortable writing about it.

So instead this week I am going to show you what I have been doing with my phone since discovering NFC tags.
Ill start with NFC tags. NFC stands for near field communication and it is a form of wireless technology that allows the exchange of small amounts of data from a tag to a NFC compatible phone. The tags them selves don't need any batteries as they draw power from the receiving device.

The tag can be anything, they're commonly put in key rings and stickers but they can be put into anything really. The good thing about the technology is that it has been around for quite some time. Contactless bank cards, Oyster cards and key fobs for secure buildings all use this (or very similar) technology.

I'm going to go through a few apps you can download which make some tasks a lot easier. The first app is NFC Actions, this provides you with a list of common tasks you might want to automate. I used this app to connect to my WiFi network. You just pick your WiFi network and enter the password, write to the tag by placing it on the back of the phone. 

Once the tag was written I simply put the sticker on my router with the idea that if any of my guests come over and want to connect to the WiFi then they can just put there phone on the tag and viola! The only draw back to using these types of apps is that the receiving device needs to have the app as well.

Another notable app is AnyTag NFC Launcher. This reads any NFC tag and allows you to open an app. So I have it set to open the Natwest app when it detects my bank card and the Oyster Balance.  For more ideas regarding NFCs have a look at this blog.