Things you never knew your phone could do | NFC Part 2

In this second part of the series (first part here), our editor Si Jie brings you more things that you never knew your phone could do with your phone’s NFC function. We hoped that you have tried out some of the things introduced in the previous article, and we will be bringing you more cool technology in this issue of Things You Never Knew Your Phone Could Do.

1. NFC Payments

What more to start off than beginning with NFC Payments? That’s the IN thing now, right? “Simply tap your phone to pay!” We don’t even use MasterCard PayPass or Visa PayWave now!

DBS One-Tap
DBS One-Tap

Well, here in Singapore, this technology, while being still in its infancy stage, is beginning to gain popularity. Banks like DBS have worked with local telcos Singtel, M1 and Starhub to roll out payment apps for your phone. Do head over to their website to download the respective apps for your phone!

However, I must mention that these apps are only for some of the most recent (popular) phones. Not all phones are supported, including the Nexus 5 or the iPhone. Additionally, this technology requires that you use a NFC-enabled SIM card, which can be purchased from your telco at $37.45 or waived for a limited time based on promotions. NFC Host Card Emulation (Android 4.4) is NOT supported … yet.

2. Programmable NFC Tags (ads)

Last week, we talked about programmable NFC tags. For business users out there reading this post, or for students looking to impress with a catchy and unique poster, here’s something interesting.

I bet you, you’ll probably find QR codes in more than 1 out of 2 posters you see. Well the trusty old QR code works extremely well, but it’s getting kind of … old.

QR Code, Downtown East
QR Code, Downtown East

Be honest, how many of you scan these things? I see these codes about 5 to 10 times a day, but I scan, on average, 1 a month. Thats 1 in 300. ZERO-POINT-THREE PERCENT.

Using NFC tags, you can actually embed the chip into the poster. Chips aren’t exactly that expensive – you can pick up a set for as cheap as 50 cents each if you buy wholesale.

We're obviously not the first ones to think of this. Samsung got ahead of us.
We’re obviously not the first ones to think of this. Samsung got ahead of us.

Sounds cool? Maybe try suggesting this in your proposal then!

3. Unlock phone with NFC

With a rooted phone as well as a plugin from the Xposed framework, it is possible for you to unlock your phone from the lock screen.

Screenshot of the Xposed Framework NFC Unlock Plugin
Screenshot of the Xposed Framework NFC Unlock Plugin

What this then means, is that you can actually unlock your phone through a variety of nfc tags, including keychains, your staff pass (assuming it’s RFID enabled), your CEPAS card, a NFC-enabled ring, or even something as crazy as nail polish (sorry guys) from this tutorial!

Just touch your phone to the card and your phone automatically unlocks – just like those high-tech security sensors you see in movies!


Well, that concludes the second edition of Things You Never Knew Your Phone Could Do! If you have any more cool suggestions to play around with NFC, do tell us in the comments! For the next edition, do look out for a hidden part of your Android phone: the Dialler Codes.

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