Samsung Galaxy S II – NFC Tags

by Brandon on March 7, 2012

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Back in November, I purchased my first Android device—the Samsung Galaxy S II (named best smartphone at the 2012 GSMA Mobile Awards). The Galaxy S II supports NFC, and I recently decided to take advantage of this feature. I ordered some cheap NFC Tags from here (check out their Twitter page for some good deals), and they arrived in the mail this week.

I decided to use the NFC Tags to change my phone’s settings based on where I am. For example, I put an NFC Tag in my car which turns on GPS, Bluetooth, Auto Rotation, disables the Keyguard and Screen Timeout, and launches my Music App. I have one at home that enables WiFi, disables the Keyguard, and maximizes the Ringer Volume.

Setting up the NFC Tags to work with your smartphone is fairly simple. Here’s what you’ll need:

Once you’ve purchased, downloaded, and installed the 3 apps from the Android market you are ready to go.

Tasker is a very powerful app, but we won’t be doing anything too complicated with it. Open Tasker and select the “Tasks” tab at the top of the screen. Click on the “+” at the bottom to create a new Task. I have the following 5 Tasks:

Give the Task a name, then click the “+” to add an Action. You should see a list of Action Categories. Browse through the various categories to see what Actions may be useful for you. You may need to use the Secure Settings Plug-in to toggle the GPS (found under Plugin Category).

Here are all the Actions for my 5 Tasks:

1. Car Enter

     

2. Car Exit

     

3. Home

     

4. Away

5. Sleep

 

You can click on the “Play” button at the bottom right corner of the “Task Edit” window to test that the Task is working as desired. Once your are satisfied with your Task, close Tasker and open NFC Task Launcher.

NFC Task Launcher will be used to write the Tasks onto the NFC Tag. Watch this video for a brief overview on how to use it. The first thing we need to do is create a task. Click “Create Task” –> “Add New Action” –> “Tasker Task”. Click on the magnifying glass and select one of the Tasker Tasks you created earlier. Click the “+” button at the top right of the screen, then click “Save Tag” from the context menu. If you only want one Task on the NFC Tag, click “Write Tag” and hold your phone over the NFC Tag. The Task should be added to the Tag within a few seconds. As long as you don’t click the lock tag checkbox, you can write over a Tag as many times as you want. Repeat this process for all the Tasker Tasks you created.

NFC Task Launcher also allows you to put 2 Tasks on a single NFC Tag. From the main menu, select “Create Profile”. Select 2 different Tags/Tasks (from the Tags you saved earlier) as the first and second Tasks and click “Write Tag” to add the 2 Tasks to your NFC Tag.

Now, when you scan the NFC Tag once it will run the first Task. If you scan the same NFC Tag again, the second Task will run. Take, for example, the NFC Tag in my car. The first time I scan the Tag, it activates all my “car” settings. When I’m exiting my car, I can scan the Tag again to deactivate the “car” settings and prepare my phone for regular use.

If you are an Evernote user, another cool feature of NFC is the ability to open an Evernote note with the touch of your mobile device. You’ll need to install the free app Touchanote. Open Evernote and find the note you want the NFC Tag to open. From the note’s context menu, select “Share” and scroll down until you find Touchanote. Touchanote will launch. Click on “Write to Tag”, and the app will add the Evernote note to the NFC Tag. Now, each time you touch the Tag with your phone, that particular Evernote note will open. Now I just need to find a way to incorporate this feature into my GTD system.

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Schultz April 6, 2012 at 8:23 PM

First off, great article. I was able to follow/copy each step exactly as written. It took a bit of research for me because I had to root my phone for the GPS activation/deactivation in car mode, but I learned quite a bit in doing so.

Curious, I read about the NFC tags and most are supposed to be scanned within 4cm, however I pretty much have to set the phone on top of the chip to read it (I ordered the Mifare Classic 1K, as recommended). Also, when I peeled the chip from the paper and stuck it to a wall (in hopes of scanning the tag while exiting my apartment) the tag wouldn’t read at all. Seems they have a little ways to go, but great for the car!

Thanks for the great article.

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Brandon April 7, 2012 at 12:13 AM

I’m glad the article was able to help you out.

I have to pretty much set the phone on top of the chips to read them too. I wasn’t aware that they are supposed to work within 4cm.

I peeled one chip off the paper and stuck it in my car. It seems to work fine. The rest of my tags are still on the paper and just taped somewhere in my apartment as I’m still looking for the best spots to put them. One is taped to my apartment door and seems to work fine. Maybe you got stuck with a bad tag. I would try re-writing the tag.

I’ll edit the post to let readers know you need to be rooted for the GPS activation/deactivation. Thanks for the heads up.

One thing I’ve noticed is that you should make sure your phone is unlocked before you scan a tag. If you scan a tag that toggles the keyguard while the phone is on the lockscreen, sometimes the home and search buttons stop functioning properly and you’ll need to restart your phone to get them working again.

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htc one cena May 11, 2013 at 5:00 AM

Awesome article.

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