Not to long ago I wrote a guide on how to program NFC Tags. Since then, SmartWhere LLC has launched their own NFC programming app – Tag Manager. To test the app, SmartWhere LLC sent along their press kit!
Once the app is installed, it will run in the background, always prepared to receive NFC tag scans. The tags specifically designed to work with Tag Manager are ‘nTags’, available for purchase in the NFC Labels store. NFCLabels.com, the home of Tag Manager is your NFC Tag HQ. Once logged in, you can use this account to access your tags stats both through your web browser and NFC enabled Android device.
Tag Manager, is your own cloud-based tag management system. Your one-stop-shop to program NFC tags and analyse detailed statistics reported back by the app. On the whole, the app performed as expected and all the features built into the beta version tested worked. Some of my favourite features being the simple UI, easy tag management system and the vast amount of encoding options available.
Encoding options include;
Application/Marketplace for iOS/Android
Encoding new tags through the app is simple. Swipe a blank tag against the phone and 'claim it' using the Tag Manager app. Once claimed, the tag will appear with a unique TagID against your own Tag Manager profile (the same one used to login to the site and app).
Programming your tags is simple too; once claimed, pressing one of the icons at the top right of the screen will allow you to select from a list of encoding options. These useful options will program the tag to perform an action automatically. For example, if programmed to display a URL, selecting the URL encoding options will automatically launch the devices' web browser and then navigate straight to the programmed web page. Likewise, if programmed with WiFi settings, scanning the tag will automatically select the correct network and enter the passkey programmed into the tag (if there is one). This will be especially useful for small businesses who offer WiFi but only want their own customers to use it, meaning that customers must enter the establishment to access the wireless network.
Most of the encoding options allow a read-only mode, meaning other people can't edit it. I'm not certain what the point of this is because if you've claimed a tag against your profile, nobody else can claim it as their own. Perhaps alternative NFC encoding apps may clash with Tag Manager's system.
Tag Manager also includes a method to exactly duplicate the encoded data of one tag onto another, useful if you're making a set of tags to distribute to people or put up in a public place.
The main downside to the app was its sluggish performance. However this must be taken with a pinch of salt. I tested Tag Manager on a Samsung
Nexus S - a device which is over a year old. The app will undoubtedly perform better on dual-core and quad-core devices. The poor performance meant that single tag was duplicated and registered as multiple tags, however this was largely a fault of my impatience and me repeatedly pressing the button. A loading bar or notification telling you the progress of the task would be welcome here to resolve this. Fortunately (duplicate) tags are easy to remove through both the app and web interface.
All in all, Tag Manager is my favourite way to manage NFC tags. The app provides a good user experience and the web interface makes managing everything just easy - the statistics are a great bonus too! Personally, managing NFC tags won't be of great use to me in the near future, but Tag Manager is certainly a viable option for businesses to manage their tags and I expect the 'campaign' feature to be of much use when trying to promote new products or services locally.