Status bars

The group behind NFC wants to make sure you know what it is, and that you know you're using it

As more and more of us start taking advantage of NFC — that's Near-Field Communication, or the standard that lets you tap your phone to some other device to establish a connection, exchange data, etc. — we're increasingly getting the following question: "What is that weird symbol taking up space at the top of my phone?

N-MarkThat, folks, is the almighty NFC logo.

So here's the deal: On a good many phones these days, the symbol will be present up top — that's called the "status bar," actually — when NFC is turned on. Same as if you're using Wifi or Bluetooth, for example. So in that respect it's really not any more annoying than either of those.

And in case you were wondering, it's got an actual name. Say hello to "N-Mark."

The idea, according to the NFC Forum, is this:

"The proliferation of oNFC tags that are accompanied by the N-Mark as a touchpoint will build consumer awareness of NFC tags as sources of valuable, exclusive information and new ways to enrich their lives."

But on the other hand, it's one more thing taking up space up there. And depending on your phone manufacturer, space may well be at a premium. In the image you see above, we've used four phones from four manufactures — the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One M8, Nexus 5 (a Google phone, technically) and the Motorola Moto X (scaled up to 1080px). NFC was enabled on all four devices, but only two of them display the icon. Some phones let you show battery percentage, taking up more room. Putting your phone in vibrate or silent mode may take up another spot or two.

But, wait! You want to see the N-Mark! The NFC Forum says so!

"Increasingly, consumers will go from simply recognizting the N-Mark to actively seeking it out. This in turn will increase adoption and generate greater global demand for NFC Forum-compliant solutions."

We don't know about that. But we do know this: That weird looking N or sideways Z? That's N-Mark. That's NFC.

More: NFC Forum (pdf)


Reader comments

What's that symbol? (NFC edition)


Now if we could just get Verizon to QUIT BLOCKING technology like Google Wallet, and get them to quit pushing their ISIS "beta" app to, what, 4 cities, basically screwing everyone else? I guess that's asking too much huh.

@gozirra, Some good news for you. Verizon doesn't block Google Wallet. Starting with Kitkat, anyone can use Google Wallet on any US carrier. I personally use it with my Verizon device.

Google Wallet also works on Verizon's Galaxy S4 since 4.2, you just need to have a NFC secured SIM card.

The NFC secured SIM is for ISIS, not Google Wallet.

Posted via SPARK enabled Sprint LG G2 that still spins fast after using 60GB in a billing cycle. {No Overages}

That's exactly the reason AT&T had to send out a second KitKat update to their LG G2. They blocked Google Wallet support in their KitKat update and had to fix it quick.

Posted via SPARK enabled Sprint LG G2 that still spins fast after using 60GB in a billing cycle. {No Overages}

"Increasingly, consumers will go from simply recognizing the N-Mark to actively seeking it out. This in turn will increase adoption and generate greater global demand for NFC Forum-compliant solutions."

Thanks for starting my day out with a good laugh, NFC Forum, that was good. For such a very seldom used function of the phone, it definitely does not deserve that real estate.

You do have the option to toggle NFC off when you are not using it. And toggle NFC on when you want to use it.

He does have something of a point. At least there's an argument to be made for having the WiFi and Bluetooth icons in the status bar:

1) you need to know if you're on WiFi or not (icon only appears when connected to WiFi)

2) the Bluetooth icon whether or not you're connected (of course, this could be made to only appear when connected too)

The NFC icon, however, is static and is basically just an "advertisement" sitting in your status bar.

Totally agree with TenshiNo. It only provides information on whether or not it's on, but i want to leave it on all the time. And I definitely don't want it to take up that real estate on my notification bar. For my new HTC One I actually looked for a way to keep NFC on, but remove the icon and found the only way to do it is to root your phone and custom install. This really bothers me because, sure the average consumer might not know what NFC can do, but for someone that does and uses it a lot that notification icon is annoying.

I could understand if the icon appeared when the NFC detected something it could (or was trying to) read. Being there *solely* because the chip is turned on seems a little silly.

I don't have an icon showing me that the accelerometer, gyroscope, or temperature sensor is "turned on".

Yes, but there's no reason to ever turn it off if you plan on using it ever at all. I believe that the number I saw was that it uses about .5% of battery every hour, and that's only when the screen is on because the radio automatically turns off when the screen is off for security reasons.

Wish it worked where it's supposed to. 3 Walgreens and a regional grocery store where Isis is supposed to work just looked at me like I was from outer space when I tried to pay with my phone.

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i was nvr able to get google wallet to work at walgreens.

I can get it to work at mcdonalds, and cvs. I just wish alot more stores would have the option to do nfc payments

Thank VISA and MasterCard for that. For some reason, they don't want Google in on their turf.

Let's just hope the stores will start looking for alternatives to those two dinosaurs soon.

Of course they don't want a more secure platform. That would mean they can't hassle customers about lost cards.

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It's not about security. It's about not losing a big chunk of that steady income they get from our grocery shopping. I think VISA and my bank got something like €15 over the last 3 months just from my visits to Tesco...

the icon is so annoying and a waste of real-estate .. I hope google got some good money for giving that ad space to the NFC guys on all of these phones. And, I'd bet that anyone who they are really trying to reach (the masses) would be better served by spending that money on an ad campaign than putting some logo that any user who's not in this forum won't understand anyway. And, it would be *much* better as an Nespresso logo or function (which is how I read it at first too). I do use NFC payments (isis) but actually drink more Nespressos than I use NFC payments (just the way it works out) so maybe connecting it to my machine or in fact putting an NFC tag on my Nespresso machine is the thing to do!! :-)

Strangest thing. Just had to wipe my Note 3 and reinstall everything. I'm looking at this symbol in the notification bar and wondering what the heck that is. Launch AC and the first thing I see is this symbol...

Even more strange, my Note 3 has never displayed the icon despite the fact that I always have NFC on and use it daily.

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It didn't show on Jelly Bean or now that I'm on KitKat. I just thought it was strange that we're both using a Note 3 and he has the icon and I don't.

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I had the icon on my Note 2, but I have never seen it on my Note 3, while running either Jelly Bean or Kit Kat. I wonder if this is something different carriers have modified to make the phones behave slightly differently.

I'm on Sprint, BTW.

I have only just started using nfc. Basically I got my Sony z2 and a free wireless blutooth speaker. The speaker has that symbol on the top. So when I want to sync it to play music I just rub my phone over the top of it.

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I know what the logo is, have for a while, didn't the first few times I saw it on a new phone and needed to turn things on and off until I figured it out... BUT... The logo is TERRIBLE!!!! Too little negative space, too much positive space, clunky and huge on the screen of a phone. I just do not like it at all.

I use tap to pay quite often and have never seen this before in my life.

And by the way, n-mark is a little too close to n-word for me to like it.

Posted from my newly Kit Katted Droid Ultra

I really hope the comment about the term N-mark was a joke. Otherwise we should all jump off a bridge, as political correctness has finally gotten as bad as it possibly could ever get.

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Which n-word? There's thousands of words starting with n to choose from.

I'm sure you could find offensive words that start with every single letter of the alphabet if you tried.


Posted via SPARK enabled Sprint LG G2 that still spins fast after using 60GB in a billing cycle. {No Overages}

I've got a nexus so don't get the symbol, which is good because if I did I'd probably disable NFC.

I see why they've done this but there's a difference between NFC, WiFi and Bluetooth in that with the latter two the icon actually notifies you of connection status and signal strength. With NFC it's just "yeah, I'm on. Just gonna hang out in your status bar, bein' useless." Dammit! Now I'm anthropomorphising icons :/

NFC should just be set and forget, just give the option to disable the icon.

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An icon is needed for NFC because of less informed general consumers.

There are a lot of STUPID PEOPLE with money buying high tech items because they think it will make them smart.

Its like the old saying about giving an idiot a ball and a cube. The idiot will try and roll the cube.

Posted via SPARK enabled Sprint LG G2 that still spins fast after using 60GB in a billing cycle. {No Overages}

Like I say I see why they do it, Joe Blogs sees the symbol out in the world and thinks "oh, my phone has that thing" then probably pays with his card.

Incidentally, Google wallet isn't a thing here in the UK, so it's unlikely anyone will ever see the symbol in the wild, as that's currently it's main use.

But to reiterate, just let people toggle the icon off. If you know what NFC is it serves no purpose.

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The Moto X must be the red one with no reception, otherwise the carrier name would be showing on the left. Unless its the black one, then how did you get the carrier name to disappear? Erased it in photo editing for simplicity?

The stupid Rogers tag takes up too much space in my status bar! Only allows me to see 4 notification icons at once :(

Being as there's no signal, I'm guessing it doesn't contain a SIM.

EDIT: misread your post, yeah I'm pretty sure the black one is the N5. Probably the only way you'll lose that is through root.

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In the same way that I can now control what apps show notifications, I should be able to control what apps put icons in my status bar.

Posted via Android Central App using an LG G2.

I submitted the N Mark be used on all CyanogenMod releases back in the day to bring awareness. I can understand the frustration being an early adopter and consumers not knowing the power they are wielding in the palm of their hands.

To be honest, if you're running CyanogenMod I'd say there's a damn good chance you're aware if your phone has NFC or not, as well as every single other feature and specification it has. Average users don't tend to install custom ROMs.

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