NFC

NFC has been set to be the "next big thing" for a while now, but has never taken off. Most high-end Android phones ship with an NFC chip now, so the hardware is out there, but there is one big piece of the puzzle missing -- a reason to use it.

Most folks instantly think of Google Wallet whenever NFC is mentioned. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed and unless Google can force a drastic change in the way partners do business, it's a non-starter. Carriers and OEM partners effectively killed Google Wallet by refusing to support it in favor of their own solutions.

But NFC can do much more than mobile payments. Apps like NFC Task Launcher and Tasker allow you to use an NFC tag to do just about anything your phone is capable of, phones can share data by bumping their backs together, and you can even set up a Nexus Q by touching it to your phone. So we wanted to find out, now that NFC has been around a while is anyone really using it? Answer in the poll after the break or in the sidebar to the right.

Before we go, a look at last week's poll.

Who brought the best devices to show us at MWC 2013?

MWC devices

Looks like the HTC One wins this round, but the season is early!

 

Reader comments

This week's sidebar poll: Do you use NFC?

55 Comments

I sideload Google Wallet on to my Verizon Galaxy Nexus. I love getting around Verizon's anti-consumer restrictions. My pharmacy, Rite Aid, accepts Wallet.

Rite Aid and McDonalds in my town. I go every chance i get. and i love NFC Tasker. Tweet them to get some free NFC tags.

I've used it at McDonald's, and I think Whataburger supports it, too. Also, Macy's, though I usually only go there when I'm Christmas shopping.

I've also used it to Beam photos from my phone to my Nexus 7.

Funny this was posted now. I was just trying to send a video from my galaxy s3 to nexus 7 from the Samsung video player but it didn't work. Thus concludes another attempt at using nfc.

Samsung devices don't play well with other devices. That's not NFC's fault it's Samsung's they are new Apple when it comes to stuff like that.

My bro and I exchange stuff through NFC between out Gnex's. The only places to use nfc is gas stations, petco and a couple places at the mall. Need companies to embrace it to become main stream. Need some type of gimmick for companies to start using them.

My bro and I exchange stuff through NFC between out Gnex's. The only places to use nfc is gas stations, petco and a couple places at the mall. Need companies to embrace it to become main stream. Need some type of gimmick for companies to start using them.

yep, I use it to pay for the train or bus fare, sometimes at convenience stores too; to order at McDonald's, to get points at some stores... beats carrying 5 different cards lol

Use it all the time. Wife and I both use a tectile in the bathroom to launch Slacker to have music while in the shower. We use a tectile to turn off wifi and turn on GPS when headed out of the house. We also use it for sharing photos and videos via Sbeam (Samsung's wifi direct sharing). She has the white and I have the blue Verizon SGS3, both 16GB. Love NFC. Have never used it for payments of any sort. Yet.

Used it for payments twice, just to see how it worked. Use it mainly to transfer photos, contacts and apps. As a payment device, it makes little sense-I have to have my wallet anyway! What would make it worthwhile is the ability to receive a recipt (itemized and complete, not just the total) and to not have one printed. I'm sure if this were to occur, someone would create an app that allowed you to collate these receipts and to compare prices and keep track of spending.

I have several tectiles in my car for changing settings on the fly. Have also shared photos and web sites via NFC/S-Beam with my wife. It even works flawlessly through our cases (we both have Incipio sylacrylic cases).

It saves me a lot of time messing with settings. I got one near my bed, in my car, on my desk at my job and one as a keychain

I'm almost ashamed to say that the one on my keychain is used to Rick Roll people... Makes a good demo though.

I have one on my badge lanyard that has my email address for sharing contact info.

I use a TecTile in my car to launch Spotify, and I use Google Wallet to pay for gas and the occasional Red Bull at 7-11.

The problem is that nfc as a payment option didn't fix a problem. It's not hard to just slide your card which is why retailers probably saw no reason to upgrade their payment stations to accommodate an unproven technology. First time I tried to use Google Wallet, nothing happened and all I achieved was holding up the line. I believe if nfc is going to flourish, it shouldn't start out on such a big arena that's dominated by the banks. It should first focus on convenience and nifty little tricks. Japan is so far ahead of us it's ridiculous.

Before I borked my NFC chip trying to update Google Wallet, I was using it as often as I could. Have to wait for a new phone, neither Samsung nor Google will fix my phone.

Actually, i have used it, but just to try it. I would love to have some tags around though, might buy some soon. I can see me using some tags to toggle settings in the house, or in the go, maybe one on the wallet or something. Pretty handy if you ask me.

I think there should be another option "rarely". I myself thought that NFC would be big, I was even looking forward to Verizon changing their position on Google wallet, and chose my current phone because of NFC and other factors.

I use NFC tags for my Note 2 (tec tiles) and my Nexus 4 (mifare) different tags :(

I also use Google Wallet with my N4. Surprisingly quite a few places take it where I live. I will pass on ISIS and their special SIM card and anti choice BS.(Austin is a test market) ATT should have given me the choice on NFC payments and not try to force me to use their system...they get enough money from me. Funny how certain industries want to force you into things instead of making the best product so you will choose it of your free will. Listening wireless carriers? (Except Sprint)

I want to make use of wireless charging but Verizon is saying that it won't work through the case(s) I want to use on my phone. Which defeats the purpose of the protection if I have to remove the case to charge it. Other NFC options are a moot point cause no other person in my family or friends have a NFC capable phone. :(

I haven't used any of the tiles or tags yet, but I have used it for payments and to a couple of times to transfer files with different managers and with one of my employees.

I use it all the time. I use Google Wallet everywhere I can when the option is available and I have programmed NFC tags all over my house and by office to do various tasks. Combine them with Tasker and you have a powerful system.

Side fun: I paid for something with Google Wallet the same week the new iPhone 5 came out and some guy behind me asked if that was the new iPhone I had. I told him that sadly Apple doesn't seem to think it's needed right now.....true story....

Use it every day, got a Tagdroid key fob which toggles bluetooth and GPS for me. I also try and use Google Wallet whenever I can at school.

I don't use nfc for anything beyond the free money I got for initially signing up for wallet. Also, Samsung did pretty well in that last poll for an event where they didn't even announce their next flagship phone.

Thanks for writing about this, Jerry!
I have a rooted Nexus 4 and love using my NTAG203 NFC tags in conjunction with Tasker. At home I have a tag that turns on Wifi which kicks off a Tasker task that sets my "home" volume profile and disables my PIN lock. A tag in my car enables Bluetooth which starts a Tasker task that sets my "car" volume profile, opens Google Maps, disables Wifi, and opens Pocketcast. And so on and so forth. NFC and Tasker truly empower and automate your smartphone!

I'm sorry but no as I have nothing to use it with. Most of my friends have an iPhone with no NFC and I'm not a fan of NFC tags. Useless pretty much. What I want is an IR Blaster, thank you HTC!

I wish I could use it for something .. but nothing in my country has started to use it yet. Maybe in the future.. (probably only after crapple decides to put it in the icraphone).

I would use it all the time if I could share pictures with other phones, but all I've gotten to work is contact info and web pages. I've never seen a NFC tag in the wild.

I don't really see the need for nfc payments. I always have my wallet and I don't find Google wallet any quicker than taking out my card. The nfc tags sound interesting though but not interesting enough to spend money on it I just don't have a need for them

The only thing I use NFC for on a regular basis is Android beam. Most of my friends (believe it or not) have NFC-enabled Android devices and it's been a great feature for sharing pictures and such between all of us.

I have my first NFC-enabled phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note II - a brilliant device, by the way. I experimented with NFC using Samsung's TecTiles, but no longer use the technology at all for these reasons.
1) Mobile payments are, of course, not allowed on Verizon at the moment.
2) No one else I know currently has an NFC-enabled phone that I might use that technology to share data by "bumping" - at least no one or nothing I would be likely to share that way. (Dropbox, and other cloud services, is still the best way to share files.)
3) Haven't thought of anything I would use NFC tags for other than simple things that are just as easy to do without the tags.
4) Tasker, and like automation tools, are better at, more automatic, and easier to use than NFC tags.
5) To scan an NFC tag you must first wake-up the device. Once I've done that, it's just as easy to turn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Data, etc. on/off manually as it is to tap the NFC tag.
I'd love to find a great use for this technology. But right now, I just haven't found that use.
Anyone have any great uses for NFC I might not be thinking of?

I've never used NFC and don't foresee ever using it (no use for it at all). In fact, it's disabled on both my Nexus 7 and Note 2.

Nope. I wanted to. I really did. I used my $10 Google Wallet credit. Bought a bunch of NFC tags. Forced myself to use them for a while...but they really aren't any more convenient than just tapping the damn app icon or settings toggle on the screen. I don't feel like they really add anything to my experience.

I don't even know anyone else with a Samsung device that I can use the sharing functionality...most of my family is either across the country or they have an iPhone.

At this point in time, I don't have any real use for NFC that would make my life any easier. Not even Google Wallet, since pulling out the phone, turning it on, swiping the screen, opening the app, inputting my security code and holding up the device to the reader is not any faster than just pulling out my wallet, grabbing my card and swiping it.

NFC is one of the things that finally made me buy a used Galaxy Nexus. There have been a few geocaches put out recently that use NFC to give final coordinates. I wanted to be able to go after those, and finally move up to 4G. I haven't done any payments with it yet.

I use it on a daily basis. my main one is for my morning commute. i have it shut off wifi, turn auto Brightness on, and open up Tune In radio as well as set the volume to the correct...volume. other than that, i have sent a web page or 2 to my nexus 7, used google wallet a handful of times.

for the most part though, Tasker does everything i need it to automatically. there are just a few things i cant do with it...and for that, i usually use NFC tags.

I use it mostly just to watch the iphone users jaw drop. I've used it a couple of times at walgreens, mcdonalds, jack in the box, macy's and now jc penney and vending machines. A few times people will ask "can my phone do that? My favorite response is... "probably, unless you have an iphone because it cant do it." SUPER LOL

I use NFC to switch between "car" and "home" settings, and I like it quite a bit. I only have one problem so far: the "Disable Lock Screen" task in NFC Task Launcher seems to work only intermittently. I prefer not to swipe my pattern in the car every time I use the phone. Any suggestions?

And by the way - I've never used it for payment. As many have said, I always have my wallet with me, so I'm not sure of the advantages of NFC payment.

I used it when I had 50 bucks from Google in my wallet account. Worked great at places that allowed it.

Sadly since then I haven't thought about using it. If more places used it I'd consider putting money in the account. I personally feel Apple could help push it forward.

I have not tried any NFC tags either. I'm glad the technology is in my phone though.

im not sure why jerry sounds like google wallet is a failed product, I use it quite a bit. Its saved me when i forgot my actual wallet at home and wanted a lunch. i drove down to sheetz and was able to eat because they accept paypass payment, ive even used it at the pump before. I was out driving and needed gas badly and again i had forgotten my wallet.

ive also used NFC to initiate file transfers with friends, send links back and forth on my g/f's phone, set different modes for work/play, have a tag at work that opens the page to clock in and out for the day.

I have not used it for payments, and I don't use it for the typical settings changing as I have found Llama does it without ANY interaction (that's why you'd use automation). Instead, I have mine paired up to tag hidden behind a blank wall switch in my office. When I enter, I tap my phone to it, and it shoots off a Tasker script with Eventghost plugin, to my Eventghost server which announces "Illuminating" then has a IR blaster to shoot the ON command to a custom install LED accent lighting setup.

The vending machines at work have NFC/credit card pay terminals. I use it all the time there. No need to carry change around.

I use NFC at least 2-3 times a day. Absolutely love the ability to quickly transfer files, share youtube video, share a webpage with my wife and brothers.
Most of my friends have an iphone, so they think its lame until they see the real world usage.
I have couple of nfc tags that I use every day, one right by my bed that opens the app "Gentle Alarm" for me .. One at my office that turns off gps and puts my phone on vibrate.
I use wallet whenever I can these places: bjs, cvs, wegmans, shoprite, homedepot, Wawa, Sunoco
Google wallet was definitely one of the reasons I chose MVNO over att or tmo. Hated the fact that they try to control what I could do with my phone. absolutely love my Unlocked N4 and the freedom that comes with it.

I think I used it once or twice to download something from a billboard, otherwise no.
Credit cards are still much easier than nfc, and phone to phone transfers are hampered by the fact that Samsung mucked with their nfc phone capabilities so the most popular phones don't work with other brands. Major fail for nfc.

I placed an NFC Samsung Tiles sticker on the dash of my truck. When I jump in, I quickly pass my Samsung Note 2 passed the sticker and Viola! my bluetooth is turned on and syncd with my vehicle and place my phone in the console and I drive away hands free and can initiate phone calls and receive them with never looking at my Note 2. When I park, I pass my phone by the sticker and it turns off bluetooth. then all day at work I save battery by having bluetooth off.

I couldn't live without my NFC now. Love it. Trust it. Depend on it every day. It just works excellently.