Wikipedia defines NFC: Near field communication (NFC) is a set of standards for smartphones and similar devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, usually no more than a few centimeters. Present and anticipated applications include contactless transactions, data exchange, and simplified setup of more complex communications such as Wi-Fi. Communication is also possible between an NFC device and an unpowered NFC chip, called a “tag”.
Typical application type is that you take your NFC enabled device, touch it to another NFC device or “tag”, and your device does something automatically. What is done could be a payment made using NFC technologies or your mobile phone can open a web page that the “tag” points to. How to Automate Your Phone for Every Room in the House with NFC Tags gives some more ideas what you can do. Sound something that I would want to try.
So the next thing is to get NFC “tag” and program it. How to program an NFC tag with your Android device tells that programming an NFC tag from your NFC-capable Android device is extremely easy and can lend itself to some very useful scenarios. All you need is Android device with NFC capabilities, NFC tags and an app that allows you to write to the tags. The article recommends to buy pre-formatted tags.
8 Types Of Data You Can Easily Program On NFC Tags article tells what can be written to NFC tags:
Types Of Data You Can Store On NFC Tags
1. Website URL
2. Foursquare/Facebook Venue Check-In
3. Address Book Contact
4. Phone Number – make a phone call.
5. Plain Text
6. Pre-formatted Email
7. Link to a Map
8. Smartphone Profiles
How To Program NFC Tags With Your Android Device [Video] and How to program an NFC tag with your Android device video gives instructions on the programming task.
For testing purposes I bought Diamond Shape Rewritable Waterproof 13.56Mhz NFC Smart Tag – Transparent + Silver. According to specifications it looked promising: Memory Capacity: 1 Kbyte EEPROM Storage(716 free bytes available); Suitable for long url, annotation, information and tasks. Type: MIFARE classic 1K(MF1ICS50). Application can read the NFC tags and cover with any smartphones that has NFC function
I finally got the device (took quite bit of time for the slow mail to get it to me).
Sounded good, but did not work on my smartphone Samsung S4 mini The smartphone kept telling that it could not work with it. The description on the product said works with “any smartphones that has NFC function”. Was my unit broken or is there something else wrong?
After some Google searching I learned more. Mifare Classic NFC Tags Compatibility Issues – Nexus 4, Nexus 10, Samsung Galaxy S4, & New (2013) Nexus 7 article tells that there was a lot of confusion about the Nexus 4 and 10 and NFC compatibility with the Mifare Classic 1K NFC Tags. The article tells that NXP has been one of the leading manufacturers of NFC hardware and pretty much all Android phones up to a certain point used NXP hardware. NXP created the Mifare Classic 1K Chip specifically to be compatible with it’s hardware and not necessarily to adhere to the protocols. Those Mifare Classic chips are not necessarily compatible with any phone that uses other manufacturer’s hardware, that work only with tags that completely adhere to the NFC Forum’s Protocols. The article recommends to get NFC tag that complies with the NFC Forum’s protocol, for example NTAG203 or Topaz 512 Tags.
It seems that Samsung was also hit by those same compatibility issues when they changed their NFC chips from NXP to Broadcom. Samsung Galaxy S 4 Incompatible with Original TecTiles, TecTile 2 Announced article says that new phones are not compatible with NFC stickers Samsung sold just a short while ago.
It seems that my first trial with NFC failed. I need to get standards compliant NFC tags to continue. I just learned that you need to be careful what type of NFC tags to get if you want them to be compatible with all NFC enabled phones. It might be a good idea to stay away from Mifare Classic 1K NFC Tags which you can seen in quite many places.