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NFC stands for “nobody is using this” – but I’m about to change that. Most phones come with NFC (near field communication) capabilities but it’s usually the power-user who takes advantage of it, while the casual user is probably, I don’t know, milling around acting all casual-like. Anyway, here is a list of the best ways to use NFC.

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Here are some great ways you can use NFC. / © ANDROIDPIT

How to enable NFC

Firstly, to use NFC you must have a device which supports NFC. If you go to Settings > Wireless & networks and you see NFC listed, then your device can use it. Enable it from the same menu.

Important: For an NFC transfer to work, both your device and the sender/receiver's device must have NFC enabled.

How to use NFC

To use NFC, just bring two NFC-enabled devices together, or select Android Beam in the Share options when sharing a file. If the devices become separated at some point it will ask you to bring them together again. It is safe to do so.

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Do as the nice smartphone tells you to. / © ANDROIDPIT

1. Send a phone number

“Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, so here’s my number, via NFC” as the hit song goes. NFC is the simplest way to give a person your digits because you don’t actually have to type any digits.   

Just navigate to a contact in your address book (it can be your own or somebody else's), then press your phone to the recipient's and when your phone says “touch to beam”, tap the display. 

When is it useful?

When you’re too drunk to type numbers.

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That's me sending my friend David's contact details. / © ANDROIDPIT

2. Send a picture

Snapchat isn’t the only way to quickly send somebody a lewd picture, you can also use NFC. Open the picture you wish to send in your preferred image viewer, then bring the phones together. 

When is it useful?

When you’re next to somebody who wants a picture you have.

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Quickly share photos with NFC. / © ANDROIDPIT

3. Send a document

This can be a slightly tricky process. If you try to send a PDF document while viewing it, for example, it will more than likely beam the PDF viewing app, rather than the PDF file itself.

So in this case, you must use Android Beam. Navigate to the file you want to share, tap the three tops (hamburger) icon, tap Share, then select Android Beam. You are now clear to bring the devices together.

When is it useful?

When you want to explain the Carcassonne "farmer scoring" rules and have a digital rulebook open on your device. 

4. Direct someone to your new favorite app

“Yo, that weather app looks great, what is it?” Just let me press my phone on yours and you’ll find out. Yes, with NFC you can direct Androiders straight to the Play Store to pick up your favorite apps or games. As long as you are using the app or game at the time, NFC will direct the recipient to the app's Google Play page. 

When is it useful?

When somebody sees you playing Alto's Adventure and wants to get in on the action.

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If somebody is interested in an app you're currently using, beam them to the Play Store. / © ANDROIDPIT

5. Send directions

There are many occasions when you are required to explain directions to somebody, but with NFC you don't have to. Use Google Maps to create some directions, then slap your phone against another. Beautiful. 

When is it useful?

Well, it's not useful when you are directing someone to your location. They would already need to be next to you to complete the transfer...

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Second star to the right, and straight on till morning. / © ANDROIDPIT

6. Launch an app on someone else's phone

If you are using an app or playing a game that is already installed on someone else device, you can launch it for them. Say you are using Google Photos and your friend wants to check their photos too, but can't find that app: tap the phones together and beam. 

When is it useful?

Okay, the use cases for this are quite limited, it's more for fun than anything else. Unless a person has like a million apps and really can't find the one they need and you can.

7. Make a payment

NFC can also be used to make mobile payments. Download Android Pay via the link below, add your credit or debit card details, then use it in any store that has a contactless payment terminal. Right now, these stores can only be found in the US (and they're hard to come by there), but they are becoming more prevalent. 

Android Pay Install on Google Play

Head to our Android Pay vs Samsung Pay vs Apple Pay article for more on contactless payment options and visit Google's dedicated Android Pay page at the link.

When is it useful?

When you're out of hard cash. 

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NFC payments are becoming more and more common. / © ANDROIDPIT

Games that use NFC?

So far, I haven’t found any Android games that have a good implementation of NFC. I think it’s a crying shame. It’s an NFCrying shame. If you know of any such games, or know any indie devs working on such a project, please get in touch (@scottadamgordon).

Final thoughts

NFC is great for when you’re out of credit, out of 3G or LTE data, have no Wi-Fi or carrier signal, or don’t have a cable to do a PC transfer. It’s quick, easy, and bumping two phones together is fun.

Give me your favorite uses for NFC in the comments. 


Write new comment:
  • Everyone should avoid using things like this. World bank and every corrupt official wants to move to a completely cashless society. I know its convenient but bad in the long run. Not to mention the privacy issues for phones with the device. Anyone with a neat piece of hardware can get any info off of your phone just by walking near you. Don't buy in to every little convenience. Wal-Mart is super convenient but ma and pop stores disappear shortly after their arrival.

  • Joanna 5 months ago Link to comment

    Handsome and helpful

  • Dirk Faam 5 months ago Link to comment

    Tags are a gimmick?
    When I leave my house a tag turns of the lights (via Hue) and wifi, when I step into my car a tag makes sure bluetooth and GPS are on and turns on Waze, Flitsmeister and Spotify. A second tag does the reverse when I leave my car.
    And another tag in my house turns on the lights and wifi.
    So I love NFC.

  • Alex R. 6 months ago Link to comment

    That was really useful!Thanks :)

  • Craig J. 7 months ago Link to comment

    It actually means nobody f%@&ing cares

    • Surely not...
      Nobody Flippin' Cares
      Who F%@&ing cares would be WFC which could easily be mistaken for We Found the Chicken.
      (The opposite end of the food-chain to Kan't Find the Chicken or KFC).

  • 9
    Caroline 7 months ago Link to comment

    Thanks ~

  • NFC.....No F@#%ing Cash is really what it stands for isn't it.....

  • Hilko R. 7 months ago Link to comment

    You totally forgot to add NFC tags?
    That's one of the most useful (but geeky...) usecases.

  • I have come across some advertising screens in Lakeside shopping centre (Essex) which show videos.

    On the edge the is an arrow saying something along the lines of touch your smartphone here.

    When you do, your phone opens your browser on the website pertaining to the advert.

    I assume this is NFC technology...

  • Bojan M. 7 months ago Link to comment

    Two years ago, I got a few NFC tags with my new phone. At first I used them, just for fun and to explore some new tech. But, after a short while I found out there are some apps that can do the same (for my particular use, e.g. have a NFC tag on your bedside table and just touch it or put your phone on it to automatically turn off the sounds, set up the alarm etc.; it is actually pretty cool, at first at least) and without relying on some external tools and without having NFC turned on all the time (not sure what is battery consumption like in this case).

    Well, two years has passed and NFC is nowhere to be seen. I'm sure there are some isolated cases and not necessarily based on phones (e.g. you could use a NFC tag as a hotel room key etc.), but I don't see it anywhere actually. The most promising use would be for payments, I guess, but that's very slowly getting into our lives and not sure I would like to use my phone for that.

    So, the adoption is very slow and the technology may soon become obsolete if something else, more useful, pops up.

  • Cheeto V 7 months ago Link to comment

    Why is it that no one else has pointed out the more obvious acryonym for NFC, at least for the "everyday user..?" No Fμ©king Clue..?"

    I have known for a while what it stands for, and its uses which are vast in nature. One missed here is performing actions on your phone when you pass by an NFC chip along with another app to allow that...

  • Lots of people don't know yet how mush services can NFC give us, we are at Tragging trying to use this important feature available on most of android phones to gives users new solutions in a creative way.
    you can follow us see our progress using this chip just search for Tragging or Where's My Staff on google or facebook to find us right away.

  • Bojan M. 7 months ago Link to comment

    Oh come on Scott, try harder. NFC stands for "Nobody F*cking Cares", and my guess is it will stay that way for quite some time.

  • only use it to pair my headphones...pretty useful

  • B Olson 7 months ago Link to comment

    Something useful in the not so distant future: NFC Forum working on providing ubiquitous, standardized, public transport access and ticketing on any NFC-enabled device . . . . anywhere in the world.

  • Dave 7 months ago Link to comment

    Totally forgot about NFC... used it once trying to link my phone to the tv.

    All i achieved was scratching the side of the tv as i bashed my phone against it trying to get it working & then catching my finger in between the banging & dropping my phone on my foot!!

    Never tried again after that mini adventure ;-)

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