The tags themselves are small discs of plastic, around the same size as a quarter. Although they require no power source, they’re able to use the NFC tech to draw a small amount of juice from your phone, thereby passing on information that can be interpreted by the chip inside your device.
These tags are supplied unformatted, which means they’re effectively a blank slate, like a brand new floppy disc (remember those?). To write instructions to these tags, you’ll need an application such as NFC Task Launcher. Not only does this allow you to write data to the tag — such as a URL, contact, or piece of text — but it also lets you bond the tag with certain activities on your handset. What sort of activities, I hear you ask? Let’s find out…
Creating a profile tag for your workplace
Having your phone ring when you’re at work is one of modern life’s little annoyances — especially if you’re foolish enough to have a particularly embarrassing ringtone. Remembering to put your phone in silent mode before you set foot in your office should be part of your regular daily routine, but many of us forget to do so. Thankfully, NFC tags can sort this out for you — as well as handle several other settings on your phone in one fell swoop.
Perhaps you have a spouse or family member who is especially concerned with your whereabouts. Tap Add Action again, and then select Social Media from the menu. Here, you can create a task that sends a tweet to your Twitter account to confirm you’ve arrived at work safely, or you can use alternative social networks, such as Foursquare, Facebook, or Google Latitude to achieve the same result.
Finally, if you’ve got a busy day at work, you may want your calendar application to open up as soon as you sit down at your desk, so you can see what’s in store during your working day. Select Add Action and then Launch Applications. Tap Applications and then select Calendar from the list that is shown.
Creating a profile tag for your home
Repeat the process you followed for the work tag, but this time toggle everything backwards. So switch your ringer on, tweet that you’re home, and so on. You may wish to switch your Wi-Fi off, or alternatively you can instruct it to specifically connect to your home network. Position this tag near your door at home and you can swipe it the moment you enter your abode.
Other uses for NFC tags
This is just one application for NFC tags. You can use them for other things such as automatically opening a Web page in your phone’s browser, exchanging contact details, or seamlessly enabling your phone’s portable Wi-Fi hot spot, making the process of tethering other devices a little bit easier.