Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

What is NFC? How does it work and its 5 best uses.

By Apurva Seth Jan6,2024
card payment using NFC technology

Hey there, fellow tech enthusiasts!

So, picture this: you’ve just snagged yourself a shiny new Android phone, and in the midst of exploring its features, you stumbled upon a mysterious NFC button lurking in the ‘network section’ of your ‘Settings.’ Now, like me, you’re probably scratching your head and thinking, “What on earth is this NFC thing, and what happens if I flick that switch?”

Well, fear not, because we’re about to embark on a journey to demystify this technology together!

Are you ready?

Let’s dive in and unravel the wonders of this technology, understand how it works, and uncover the cool things you can do with it. 🚀

Introduction

If you’ve had the opportunity to use any of these services—Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay—you likely have a good understanding of the term and if you haven’t had the chance to experience them yet, there’s no need to worry. After reading this blog, I’m confident that you’ll gain a clear understanding of this technology.

You have seen many people use their phone and pay of their grocery items by just tapping their phone to the payment terminal.

And guess what!

The payment is successful in no time.

It is the Near Field Communication that serve as the technology behind these payments.

NFC operates on RFID principles. It relies on electromagnetic fields to facilitate data exchange between two compatible devices, typically within a very short range.

This communication technology has gained prominence for its versatility and convenience in various applications, from contactless payments and ticketing to data transfer and device pairing. One of NFC’s key advantages lies in its simplicity and efficiency, requiring no complex setup or pairing processes.

Frequently asked questions –

1. What is NFC?

The full form of NFC is Near Field Communication.
As the name suggests, it allows interaction with other NFC supported devices over an extremely short range.

Operating as a wireless service, it facilitates data transfer between two devices when they are touched or brought into close proximity, typically within a range of 3 to 4 cm.

It is helpful in the fast data transfer. The speed of transferring data is about 106 kbps to 425 kbps.

Data transfer using Bluetooth for sharing images or essential documents involves multiple steps. First, both devices need to turn on Bluetooth, second they must go through the process of pairing together, and only after completing these steps can data be shared. However, those days are now behind us.

The only drawback here was, the whole process requires a lot of time. This problem has been overcome by NFC which works really fast.

While it is a fast technology, it has its own limitations.

It is not suitable for connecting devices that are placed at longer distances (more than 10 cm), and it can only facilitate the transfer of small amounts of data.

2.What kind of data can you share using this technology?

You can share data like photos, website URLs, videos, contacts etc. to the other NFC enabled phone.

Data transfer between two phones

3. What is NFC in Phone?

As previously discussed regarding this technology, this feature in your phone not only enables you to share data with other NFC-enabled Android devices but also offers a range of other capabilities.

Here are some of the benefits of this technology –

a. Mobile Payments:

Near Field Communication has significantly transformed the landscape of mobile payments, offering users an easy and secure way to conduct transactions.

With NFC-enabled smartphones, the need for physical wallets or traditional payment methods diminishes. When making a mobile payment, the NFC chip in the smartphone interacts with the point-of-sale (POS) terminal, facilitating a contactless transaction.

The benefits of mobile payments with this technology extend beyond the sheer convenience of leaving cash and cards at home. NFC transactions are swift and efficient, reducing wait times at checkout counters.

Moreover, the security features inherent in this technology, such as encrypted communication and short-range proximity, make it a robust and secure method for conducting financial transactions.


b. Accepting Payments from Credit and Debit Cards :

Nowadays, businesses are increasingly adopting this technology to accept payments from credit and debit cards.


Now you can turn your smartphone into a mobile payment terminal by simply adding a mobile reader to your phone. Some companies like Square is offering mobile NFC readers to add to your phone.

And if you are an iPhone user, you don’t have to buy and add reader to your phone as Apple has provided a feature from which you can easily accept payments from your customers.

The transactions using this technology are quick and secure as it benefits both merchants and customers.

For businesses, it is helpful in –
1. Faster transaction processing times,
2. Reducing queues and increasing customer throughput.

And customers, on the other hand, appreciate
1. The convenience of a quick tap,
2. Eliminating the need for physical card insertion or manual entry of payment details.


c. Lock Doors Using Smart Locks :

It is quite possible to forgetting our key cards or losing the security card to unlock the hotel room/ home doors. Now, if we have a key in our phone to unlock our door at that time, it would be quite convenient. Right?

This is not the only advantage. Homeowners can now enhance the security of their homes by utilizing NFC-enabled smartphones to control smart locks. By simply tapping your phone on the smart lock, users can lock or unlock doors effortlessly. This technology replaces traditional key systems with a more convenient and secure alternative.

This feature is not only convenient but also adds an extra layer of security, as these transactions are encrypted, making them resistant to unauthorized access. It provides homeowners with peace of mind and control over their home’s access points.


d. Automate tasks by using NFC Tags :

These are small, programmable chips that leverage NFC technology to automate various tasks.

NFC tag
Image Source : Amazon

These tags can be programmed to trigger specific actions when an NFC-enabled phone like iPhone comes into contact with them. Apple has provided their users an app named Shortcuts App for connecting with these tags and for Android users, Tasker can make this task easy for you.

What you need to do is to install the app to your phone. Set all the options in the app according to instructions to configure the tag i,e, you need to tell the app that what do you want to automate (say you wants automate it to Play Music.) Following proper configuration, each time you bring your phone close to the tag, it will automatically initiate the music playback.

You can customize these tags according to your preference, such as setting alarms, adjusting device settings like keeping your phone silent or launching specific applications.

That’s how these tags eliminate some steps and help done your work quickly.

The versatility of these tags makes them valuable in various scenarios. For instance, placing an NFC tag in the car will automatically launch a navigation app when tapped with a smartphone.

This level of personalization enhances your convenience and efficiency in daily tasks.

e. Pairing Devices – Headphones and Speakers :


NFC simplifies the process of pairing devices like headphones and speakers.

As discussed above that bluetooth pairing involves navigating multiple steps to pair the two devices together, NFC streamlines this process by allowing users to establish a wireless connection with a simple tap.
You only need to bring the devices close together and initiate the connection with a tap for pairing NFC-enabled headphones or speakers with a smartphone . This will reduce both the time and effort required for pairing and minimizes the chances of connection errors.

4. How does NFC works?

It is an evolution of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) which uses radio frequency for short range communications. You are familiar with RFID as this is the technology behind scanning items in shopping malls/grocery stores, or the key cards used in hotels to access your hotel room.

This technology is not just an evolution of the RFID. There is some difference between these two.

The key difference between both of these technology is, RFID is used for data transmission over longer distances (around 100 feet) which is definitely NOT the case in NFC.

5. How to use this technology?

You need to check first whether this feature in your phones is enabled.

For that, go to the ‘Settings’ option and tap on to the ‘Wireless Networks’. Now tap on ‘More’. You will see NFC option and if your phone is NFC enabled.


You can read this article written on Samsung’s website for a better understanding.

To utilize NFC, it’s essential to confirm that NFC is enabled on both phones. Bring both the devices in close proximity to establish a connection. After connecting both the phones, proceed to select the specific file you wish to transfer.

Now you will see that your selected file on the sender phone will shrink. Now tap that file and you will see that it will be sent to the receiver’s phone.

On the receiving phone you will get a receiving notification.


For more details, Please watch this YouTube video From Android Authority.

List of NFC supported phones in India

These days, nearly all the cool phones—Samsung, Apple, Vivo, you name it—come with NFC support. Speaking of Apple, the iPhone 6, born in September 2014, was the pioneer in Apple’s NFC journey. Post that, Apple kept the NFC ball rolling, blessing more iPhones with this nifty feature.

If you’re hungry for more details, check out the comprehensive list of NFC-supported phones over on Wikipedia.

Conclusion

NFC, the unsung hero of connectivity, is weaving its magic from connecting devices to simplifying mobile payments and automating tasks with clever tags. It’s not just a feature; it’s an integral part of our modern lifestyle, offering a secure and swift means of connectivity for a myriad of applications.

Consider those moments when your phone effortlessly exchanges data with another – that’s Near Field Communication making connectivity seamless. And when you’re swiftly tapping your phone for contactless payments, it is this technology at the forefront, revolutionizing the way we handle transactions.

But it doesn’t stop there. NFC tags, those tiny wizards, enable your phone to automate tasks with a simple tap. Adjust settings, set up smart home functions – it’s like having your own tech-savvy assistant.

As companies increasingly focus on delivering seamless, automated experiences, the future of this technology in upcoming smartphones looks promising. We’re on the cusp of an evolution, where the role of this technology goes beyond connectivity. It’s about anticipating user needs, enhancing experiences, and redefining how we interact with technology. The next wave of smartphones holds the promise of a richer, more automated digital experience. Stay tuned for the NFC-powered revolution!

Would like to share more information about this technology? Please comment below and let me know what you think about this technology.

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10 thoughts on “What is NFC? How does it work and its 5 best uses.”
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