Sunday, March 25, 2012

[HOW TO] Make life easier with NFC

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Have there been times where you were upstairs, then you notice you need to send an SMS and the phone is on the other side of the house? INTRODUCING NFC!!!

NFC is nothing new, it’s a technology that’s been used in many countries for different things (for some time too). It’s main use seems to be for wireless payments as seen in the Hong Kong Octopus card (Also available on newer credit cards with paywave), or for security. That’s all nice and handy, but outside of that, could we perhaps make these cards do more?

Enter NFC apps! So since the last iteration of Nexus (Nexus S), there has been a slight direction change to NFC. The Nexus S didn’t realy push NFC that hard, probably because things' like google wallet were only available in the US and not much other places. Now with the galaxy nexus, at least the NFC seems a little more polished and “mainstream”. ICS comes with a feature called android beam, which allows you to tap two NFC enabled devices together to share basic information (websites, apps, maps etc…)

Fortunately, now that a few more phones have NFC, the apps are increasing. A few apps put together have made my life easier… cause we all know a phone on the other side of the house is a first world problem.

You will need:

  • A NFC enabled Android device.
  • A Wifi network you trust (Home and/or Uni one is fine)
  • … To download 3 apps, so have a Gmail account ready if you don’t already have one.
  • A NFC card (Octopus cards from HK and paywave cards work)
  • OPTIONAL: Paper, colour pencils and clear book wrap to make a cover for the card

Make a custom sleeve

I like to fiddle around and make my things look pretty, so if you don’t want a cute cover for your card skip the following section and tap your card wherever that may be:

  1. Cut out a piece of paper that covers both sides of the NFC card. Don’t need to give it too much margin, just enough for it to slip in easily.

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  2. Decorate accordingly… I kept mine simple. I lose the effort to colour in real quick:

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  3. Clean the area you wish to stick it on. Just so no junk messes with your wrap.
  4. Cut out the transparent book wrap so that it can over the top surface of the paper. Be sure to give enough  “margin” for the wrap, if you don’t it won’t stick well. 1cm should be enough. Also make an opening at the top so you can slip in the NFC card.

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  5. Press the wrap firmly so that it sticks. You can place a heavy textbook over it if you want.

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  6. Carefully slip in the NFC card, between the pieces of paper.

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  7. DONE!

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Prepare the apps

I’ve only tried the following set up, there might be other apps that can achieve the same effect, but at the moment this is the setup I use. If you find a better solution please share it with us.

The following apps serve a different purpose each, you can modify settings of each to do different things, I’ve set my apps up so that when I tap my phone on the NFC tag, it automatically turns on/off and launches Airdroid. From there, I will be able to send SMS and remotely manage my phone on my desktop web browser. You can set your phone to do different things, like turn on silent mode… etc. There are lots of things you can do. My Unicard also had a NFC chip (paywave) so I set that one to turn my phone on silent and connect to the UNI wifi.

  1. Install the following apps (names clickable): NFC Retag (makes your phone read NFC cards and launch tasks), Automateit (a slightly more powerful task manager) and Airdroid (remote phone manager).
  2. You can instantly launch NFC retag by hovering the phone over your NFC card. From there, set it to turn on Wifi. Also tick the “Do not show NFC retag app on tag detected” this way you don’t need to select the program whenever your card is detected:

    Screenshot_2012-03-24-14-31-43[1]

    In automateit, make a new rule: Trigger: Connected to (your network of choice), Action: start application –> Airdroid. Don’t forget to save! You can also set it to kill Airdroid when you disable wifi.

    Screenshot_2012-03-24-14-32-41[1]

    Airdroid is simple to set up, you can basically start using it without much change to the settings. For a more “seamless” experience, make sure to enable “start service on open” in the settings. Give it a try by putting in the IP address given in Airdroid =)

    Screenshot_2012-03-24-14-32-12[1]
  3. If you’ve set the above up, the final production should be like this when you tap your phone on the NFC (followed by airdroid opening):

    Screenshot_2012-03-24-14-19-15[1]

    You will need to have your device unlocked first, otherwise it will not read the NFC card.

Misc…

Are you REAL lazy? Do you like to have everything seamlessly run without you having to do alot?!  Let’s help you set up Chrome to open up your Airdroid site then!

You can either:

  1. Create a bookmark in your browser, and look it up or type “Airdroid' in the address bar:
    Type in your Airdroid address and press ctrl + d to bookmark.
  2. Make Chrome open up Airdroid everytime on startup:
    Go into settings (spanner) –> Options –> Basics, and type in the Airdroid address in “Open the following pages”
  3. Or make a desktop shortcut for Airdroid:
    You can simply save the HTML link to your desktop… However, if you have Windows 8, you’ll need to go to:

    %appdata%\microsoft\windows\Start Menu\Programs\

    Then create a shortcut there. Return to start menu, search down the shortcut name, then pin to start menu.

WOO! That was a rather long HOW TO. I sure hope that this will make some of your lives easier. Remember, you can always make the apps to do different things, I just chose to make it do this. Let me know how you go, leave a comment below!

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P.S >.> I don’t have PS on this computer… Let’s make do with an online GIF maker…

2 comments:

betraya said...

At least for my phone- I've still waiting for 4 Xperia Smart Tags which would be much more smaller and compact for NFCs. Place 1 on my bedside lamp for no backlight, GPS off, silent, alarm on. Place 1 on my car for wifi off, GPS on etc. Plus i don't need to download anything except turn NFC on for my phone

Mylifeasacomic said...

Yea >.> but you do notice that not ALL nfc tags are this big right? It just so happens that I spoke about this because I think these are the tags readily available for everyone.

And yes, smart tags would be very handy :) Pity(?) Nexus phones are stock and have no apps from the manufacturer.

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