Everyone likes efficiency: If you can simplify a task, especially one you have to do multiple times every day, your life will be so much easier. NFC tags can help you turn these types of repetitive tasks into simple automations, and you don’t need a lot of technical skills to get started. In fact, all you actually need is a smartphone and a roof.
What are NFC tags?
NFC tags are stickers with “near field communication” technology built in. You know NFC from services like Apple Pay or Google Pay: it’s technology that lets two devices communicate with each other quickly and instantly. Your smartphone has NFC, just like these tags.
Unlike a POS (point of sale) in the store, however, NFC tags are a blank slate: you won’t use one to buy a product (although you could probably program it to do that), but you can use NFC tags to do almost anything you can think of using your iPhone or Android, specifically automated tasks that can save you time and energy.
E.g, this Instagram creator uses an NFC tag as a way to communicate with his partner when one of them feeds the dog. It’s a good example: When one of them gives the dog breakfast on the way out for the day, they scan the NFC tag. This triggers an automation on their iPhone to send a text to the other that reads, “The dog has been fed.”
Another example is for simple wifi sharingat least on Android: when someone new comes over your house, instead of pointing them at a sign with your wifi info on it, they can hover their smartphone over an NFC tag (perhaps equipped with a wifi theme for easy identification), which will trigger an automation to connect them to your home internet.
How to set up an NFC tag on your iPhone or Android
Because of the seemingly endless possibilities with NFC tags, there is no single universal guide to setting up NFC tags. If you have a specific task in mind, do some research to find out the exact steps to make it work. But there is some universal aspects of using NFC tags in general to get you started.
First you need to buy NFC tags! A quick search on Amazon returns a massive list of results, but joins a pack like these will do the trick. NFC tags are also relatively inexpensive, so they are often sold in bulk for 30 to 40 cents per tag. roof.
Once you have your tags, it’s time to program! If you have an iPhone, you can use the Shortcuts app to create an automation for your NFC tag. To access the NFC editor, open the app, tap “Automations” at the bottom of the screen, select “Create Personal Automation,” then tap “NFC.” From here, scan your NFC tag, give it a name when it connects, then tap “Next.”
If you’re using Android, you’ll need a third-party solution to get started, such as NFC tools. Fortunately, NFC Tools are basically ready to use once installed, so no priming is required.
At this point, you can completely fiddle with shortcuts or NFC tools yourself to get your NFC tag to do what you want it to do. Simple actions won’t be difficult to program as each app has obvious options for you to use. NFC tools, for example, have a list of different actions you can choose from, while Shortcuts suggests a handful and offers the rest from an “Add Action” button. But for more complicated actions, you should probably look for a guide, as you can put together intricate and powerful automations that won’t be so obvious to beginners.
But let’s look at something a little simple: setting up an automation to send a text message, like the example in that Instagram wheel. On the iPhone, we can see exactly how this creator set this up: After scanning an NFC tag in Shortcuts, select “Send Message” as your action, then tap “Message” and enter the text you want have sent. Then tap on “Recipients” and then choose who you want to send the message to. Select “Next” and then disable “Ask before running” to ensure that the text is sent immediately after scanning the tag. If you want to know that the automation worked correctly, you can select “Notify when running.” Then press “Done” and your tag is set!
Setting this up on NFC tools is also easy. Launch the app, select “SMS,” then tap the icon with a person and arrow to select a contact to send the message to. Type your message in the text field below this field, then select “OK”. Now press “Write” and scan your NFC tag.
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