How to use NFC on Android

- Sep 28, 2017 -

Near Field Communication (NFC) is quite handy when it comes to transferring data between two devices. Whether you want to send photos, videos, files, or make a payment, NFC can make it easy to do so. But how does it work, and how do you use it? We’ll walk you through the important things you need to know when it comes to using NFC.

What is NFC?

The name for the technology is a giveaway to how it actually works. You have two NFC-capable devices, and they are able to communicate with each other if they are close to each other (i.e., “near” each other’s “field”). Communication occurs via radio frequencies. Check out our other expanded overview of NFC and how it works for more details.

In the mobile scene, NFC is being marketed as a file-sharing or data-sharing tool. 

Data sharing through NFC

With NFC activated, you already use it for beaming data.

At this time, the ability to share content is limited to small files. Regardless, you can still send content or file types such as web pages, map locations, and contacts with no trouble.


Sharing apps

Sharing apps via NFC does not share the app’s APK. Instead, the sender device just beams the app’s Play Store page, and the receiver device opens it, ready for downloading.

Sharing web content and information

Sharing web pages via NFC does not send the web page itself. Rather, it merely sends the Web page URL and the other device opens it on the default Web browser.

Sharing YouTube videos

Technically, sharing YouTube videos does not share the video file. It does, however, direct the receiving phone’s YouTube app to the video.

Sharing contact info

When sharing a contact via NFC and the receiving device has several Google accounts set up, the receiving device prompts the user about which account to create the new contact in. Otherwise, the contact info will be automatically saved and the Contacts app will display it.

Sharing photos

Not all NFC-capable devices can share photos to each other. In cases where photo beaming succeeds, the receiving device gets a notification that the beam is completed. And when tapped, the beamed photo is displayed in the Gallery.

Using NFC tags

Apart from sharing content with other NFC-capable devices, you can also use NFC to configure your phone’s or tablet’s settings with just a tap. You can do this by tapping an NFC-capable device against a programmed NFC tag.

An NFC tag is an unpowered NFC chip, small enough to be embedded in items such as posters, movie passes, business cards, medication bottles, stickers, wristbands, key fobs, pens, hang tags, and more. The microchip can store small chunks of data, which can be read by an NFC-capable device. Different NFC tags have different memory capacities. You can store different data types on an NFC tag, such as a URL, contact info, or even commands and settings that the reading device could execute upon contact.

Mobile payments

Mobile payments are probably what NFC is more known for. We can say pying with a smartphone has become a bit of a novelty, and everyone is trying to sign up. It’s easy to run into issues, though, as not every vendor out there supports NFC transactions.

Want to learn more about mobile payments? The most popular services for Google’s mobile OS are Android Pay and Samsung Pay. We have put together full videos and articles on our experiences for each service. Check them out to see what they are all about.

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