5 Fun and Practical Ways to use NFC on Your Android

NFC can do much more than make mobile payments

Using near field communication
Richard Newstead / Getty Images

NFC (near field communication) may not sound very exciting, but it's a convenient and fun feature that makes sharing content between smartphones easy, and can even help you move towards a digital home. True to its name, NFC works at short distances, no more than 4 inches or so. With Android NFC, you can use it phone-to-phone, with compatible contactless payment systems, and with programmable NFC tags, which you can buy in bulk. Here are five ways to use NFC, from sharing pictures to mobile payments to home automation.

The information below should apply no matter who made your Android phone: Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

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Share Content with Android Beam

Android Beam
Android screenshot

Hanging out with fellow Androids? Share pictures, videos, web pages, contact information, and other bits of data by tapping the back of your phones together. Think of the convenience of sharing a travel photo just after it's snapped or sharing contact information at a networking event without having to search for a pen. Instant gratification.

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Set up Your New Smartphone Using Tap & Go

Next time you upgrade your Android smartphone, try out Tap & Go during the set-up process, a feature offered in Android Lollipop and later. Tap & Go transfers your apps and Google accounts directly from your old phone to the new phone, so you don't have to reinstall everything. Tip: if you accidentally skip this step in setup, you can restore your smartphone to factory settings and start over. 

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Pay With Your Smartphone at the Register with Android Pay, and More

Contactless payment
Getty Images

Contactless payments are one of the more visible uses of NFC. If you haven't used it, you've probably seen another customer swipe their smartphone instead of pulling out their credit card at the register.

You can store your credit cards in Android Pay or Samsung Pay (if you have a Samsung device) and swipe your smartphone at the register. Credit card companies have also gotten into the game with Mastercard PayPass and Visa payWave.

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Share Your Wi-Fi Network

When you have guests over, do you have to write out your long, hard-to-remember WiFi password? That's tedious. Why not use an NFC tag to share it instead? NFC tags can be programmed to do specific actions when swiped, including logging into your WiFi network. This method is more secure since your guests don't know the password and it's convenient to boot. Your guests will have to install an NFC reader app on their smartphones, but most of those are free.

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Program NFC Tags

Getty Images

What else can NFC tags do? You can program them for simple actions like activating wireless tethering, launching apps depending on your location, dimming your phone's screen at bedtime, turning off notifications, or setting alarms and timers, for example. Depending on your technical knowledge, you can also program complicated processes such as booting up your PC. Programming an NFC tag is easier than you might think, though you'll need to download an app to do so; many are available in the Google Play Store. You can even embed an NFC tag on your business cards so new contacts can save your info in a snap. As they say, you are limited only by your imagination.