Ever since buying our Nexus 7 tablets (two of them), a Samsung Galaxy SIII, and a Nexus 4 I’ve been trying to think of nifty everyday uses for NFC. I explored creating a Card Dock Profile blog post a few months ago. I wanted to use NFC to completely automate my car dock profile but ultimately I found that the app Tasker was better suited for what I wanted.
My complaint with NFC has been that it can only trigger a series of events. For example, if you want to make a “silent” profile for your phone you can create a NFC tag and set it next to your bed. When you place the phone near that tag it sets your phone to silent. However, if you want to turn silent mode off the next morning, you will either have to do that manually or create a second NFC tag to undo the silent mode and then manually touch it. For me, this what was insufficient. I wanted to be able to create proximity-based actions to trigger a series of events when the phone was close to an NFC tag and then when the phone exited the proximity of that tag then trigger another series of other events.
Since I couldn’t quite do what I wanted with NFC, I’ve been searching for other interesting uses for NFC. In my prior article’s research, I came across a fantastic app called InstaWifi. InstaWiFi is a free app (donations are encouraged) that will share any of the WiFi access points stored in your Android device. It shares them in two ways:
- Encoding the AP details to an NFC tag.
- Writing the AP details in a QR Code.
The details embedded in the NFC tag or QR code contain all the information including the password needed to connect to the stored Access Points.
The minute I came across this app, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I’d print up and laminate a card with the QR code on one side and then place an NFC tag on the back of the card. What I went ahead and did, was:
- Picked up some Self-Sealing Laminating Pouches
- I used InstaWifi to create a QR code and then emailed it to myself.
- I created a document sized it to the pouches I purchased (4”x6”) and included some directions on how to scan the QR code and NFC tag.
- Printed the document and then cut it to size the NFC tag.
- Used InstaWifi to encode a NFC tag I had purchased earlier.
- I adhered the NFC tag to the back of the printed document.
- Sealed everything up into the laminating pouch.
Now, I have a nice little laminated card that I just hand to my guests when they want to get on the WiFi. I have tested the QR code on a handful of different devices and the NFC tag on at least three different devices without any problems.
In lieu of printing a card like I did, you can also use your phone/tablet to share the WiFi AP. You can use NFC to beam the WiFi app directly to another device, or for non-NFC devices you can scan the QR code displayed on your device from the other device.
So far, of all the different uses for NFC I’ve tinkered around with, this has to be my favorite use. NFC has come in handy for a few things, but the things it’s been handy for aren’t unique to NFC. For example, sharing files is a pretty nifty NFC use, but there’s plenty of other, often better, options for sharing files; email attachments, a direct bluetooth file transfer, DropBox, etc. In this particular case, I think my preference for sharing WiFi AP details is NFC followed by the QR code. Both of these bases are covered by InstaWiFi, which I recommend for all Android device users.
The author, Jesse Chen, created a nice walkthrough for the app on Youtube: