If you’ve been on the internet in recent months (who hasn’t?) it’s almost certain that you will have seen QR codes pasted throughout the web. They’re really useful for storing small amounts of data and performing simple web tasks. Also they can be customised to your liking. However they’re not so great for non-web related tasks and the camera needs to physically see the QR code for a few seconds so it can be read. A technology that can be compared to QR codes is Near Field Communication (NFC). Unlike QR Codes, the NFC reader does not need to be in direct view of the information to be scanned.
You may have seen NFC working in real life such as in Hong Kong Transit ‘Octopus Cards’ and NFC debit cards.They have become especially useful in phones, where consumers can link a debit account to the phones’s NFC chip to make payments; saving them carrying around surplus cards.
As well as payments, NFC chips in Android phones can make benefit of an app to program NFC ‘tags’, small programmable NFC cards. One recommended use for such a tag is to toggle your phones wifi. Tap the tag when leaving the house to turn it off, and tap it again when you return to re-activate it. Alternatively you could set it to toggle 2g/3g. When you enter your house swipe the tag to turn off your 3g and activate your wifi. If you need to your phone to be silent at work, place a tag programmed to activate silent mode on your phone in your work bag, desk or cubicle. Amd of course, you can use them like QR Codes to store URL’s and V-card information. The possibilities are endless. And I’m certain we’ll be seeing many more uses in the future.
NFC Task Launcher is the app you’ll want. The full version, needed to generate the tags, costs £1.21 from the Android Market (below). Oh, and you’ll also need some programmable NFC tags! The tags seem to be hard to find in the UK so you may need to order them from abroad. Regardless, a link has been put below.