One thing which we haven’t covered up till now in these posts is how you can play around with NFC, especially if you’ve just taken delivery of a new handset that supports it. It’s definitely worth playing around with the possibilities and for any developer it’s very useful to understand what is possible, as with a lot of handset technology to make it truly useful for consumers requires well designed applications and a good user experience.
To do this potentially requires an understanding of the following:
- Different kinds of tags for different scenarios (indoor, outdoor, anti-metal)
- How tags are written/read/locked
- What you can do with tags (Open URLs, Applications, Store data)
- How you can use the NFC APIs to utilise with other device functionality and also interact with backend systems
Obviously the depth you need to go too depends on whether you just want to play around at home or you are looking to develop for a NFC related project.
At the current time there are three smartphone platforms supporting NFC, those are Android, Blackberry (which doesn’t support Mifare 1K or 4K tags) and Symbian (Anna), it’s already been confirmed that Windows Phone will support NFC in Q3 2012 via the press release for the Lumia 610 NFC.
It’s possible Apple will also support NFC in the iPhone5 due to some leaked patents, but there are some interesting stories and rumours that Apple might adopt Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) instead, but this is very much speculation and would likely lead to an interesting battle between payment providers and the Big A as everyone else has now gone the NFC route. However, it wouldn’t be the first time that the Cupertino company decided to follow their own approach to a technological challenge (AirPlay vs. DLNA springs to mind).
Previously there were a few older handsets based on Java2 Mobile Edition (JSR’s 177 & 257) but it’s debateable how relevant this is these days. However if you need to develop for these there are some open source SDKs still available (http://open-nfc.org/wp/)
For writing and reading tags you have some choices:
- PC based
If you already have a capable handset and let’s face it you’re going to need one to test or use NFC, then you can program tags via the following Apps
- NFC tagwriter by NXP (free) – Android
- NFC Tasklauncher (£1.25) – Android
- WiFiTap (free) – Android
- NFC Shortcuts ($2.99) – Blackberry
- Nokia Tag Writer (free) – Nokia
- NFC Interactor (free) – Nokia
All of these will allow you to see what NFC is capable of in terms of launching Apps and opening URLs and it’s also possible with some of the Apps to do some nice things such as Bluetooth pairing and WiFi setup for your own devices at home.
If you want to simply view what is on a tag there are also a couple of Apps that allow you to do this:
- NFC Info (free) – Nokia
- NFC Tag Info (free) – Android
It’s likely that it’s only worth purchasing a PC based writer/reader, if you think you will need to program or test tags in bulk as the handset based ones are pretty good.
So give it a go!
We hope you have enjoyed this series of blog posts and would like to thank Clove for inviting us to give an insight into NFC. If you have any questions then please don’t hesitate in contacting me via email: – email@example.com