Things you never knew your phone could do | NFC Part 1

In this brand new series, our editor Si Jie will be walking you through a series of things that you never knew your phone could do. Especially for Android users who fortunately get a more customisable software, some of these would definitely get more value out of that few hundred dollars you spend on that small gadget that sticks to you almost every second of the day.

The first series would feature the near-field communication, or NFC for short. Read on to find out more…

The NFC logo. Never seen this before?

For those of you who own an Android smart phone produced in recent years, there is a high chance that your phone comes with the NFC function.
We have included a link at the end of this post for you to check if your phone has NFC. (P.S. Sorry iPhone users, all Apple devices don’t come with one … yet)

So if you are one of the lucky ones to own such a smart phone, do read on for some cool tricks that you can do with your phone!

Before we move on, I need to introduce this essential part of the NFC, without which NFC is (largely) useless: the NFC tag.

Samsung TecTiles. Well, at its core, it's just a highly advertised NFC chip.
Samsung TecTiles. Well, at its core, it’s just a highly advertised NFC chip.
This is what a bare NFC tag looks like.
This is what a bare NFC tag looks like.

NFC chips take on many more forms, so if you use an ez-link card, or a Visa PayWave, or a MasterCard PayPass, or even hold a Singaporean Passport, they all have chips embedded in them that activates your NFC sensors!

The author is not responsible for what you do to your important documents like passports. Please don’t mess with them!

Without further ado, here are some cool things you can do.

1. Automate tasks

With the Trigger plugin from the Google Play Store, you can automate tasks on your phone with an NFC tag. For example, you can place a tag near your door, and when you reach home, simply tap your phone against the tag to activate WiFi and switch off silent mode. Save some of that precious mobile data!

Put one in a car, and tap your phone against it to automatically launch voice navigation and keep your screen on. Did I mention, you can even send SMS messages by tapping on a tag, to inform your family members that you have reached home, safe and sound!

2. Transfer files to another phone

Bluetooth is so out of fashion. Somehow, pairing doesn’t always work either.

Forget all that. NFC is the new IN.

With 2 NFC enabled phones, simply turn on Android Beam (or S Beam as Samsung calls it) and tap the two phones together. The app that you are using will automatically (and smartly) determine what data to send. If you’re looking to send a photo, just browse to your Gallery and tap phones against each other to send! It’s like doing a fistbump but with phones.

Android Beam. Cool isn't it.
Android Beam. Cool isn’t it.

3. Check how much balance your ez-link card has.

I'm not joking! This is possible, with NFC!
I’m not joking! This is possible, with NFC!

I bet you that there have been times when you tapped in to a gantry, and 5 seconds later, forgetting how much value you have in your card. Without making a beeline for the Ticketing Machine, you can actually find out by using your phone.

While this method may not work on all phones (e.g. Google Nexus 5), you are welcome to try. You can download the app from the Google Play Store. Tap your ez-link card to scan today!

Well, that concludes the first part of NFC, with more cool things you can do with NFC coming in the next edition. We will also cover other cool gimmicks that you can do with your phone in weeks to come, so stay tuned.

As promised earlier, HERE is the list of NFC-enabled smartphones.

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