Probably one of the biggest complaints I hear related to NFC is just how slowly adoption and uptake of the technology is going. While NFC-enabled phones aren't really anything new, the challenge is now getting NFC tags out and into the hands of the masses, and making programming those tags simple. Today, Samsung is announcing a plan to do just that with Samsung TecTiles.

Samsung's TecTiles is a two-pronged approach. One part is the programming application which will work with a number of NFC-enabled Samsung phones to enable users to both program and read tiles, and enable a variety of shortcuts. The list of phones provided by Samsung USA is almost all of the NFC-enabled devices that have shipped recently:

Samsung NFC-Enabled Android Smartphones
·         Samsung Galaxy S III on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon
·         Samsung Galaxy S II on T-Mobile
·         Galaxy Nexus on Verizon, Sprint and GSM Unlocked
·         Nexus S 4G on Sprint
·         Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G on T-Mobile

The TecTiles application on Google Play enables a number of shortcuts to be programmed into the NFC tags. Samsung gave us a list of some of the programmable functions, a number of which go beyond the normal PIM data embeds that I've seen done before.

Settings & Applications
·         Change phone settings (Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ringer/media volume, screen brightness, etc.)
·         Launch an application
·         Join a Wi-Fi Network
·         Show a message
·         Make a call
·         Send a text message
·         Start a Google Talk conversation
·         Share a contact or business card
Location & Web
·         Show an address on a map
·         Open a web page
·         Foursquare or Facebook check-in
·         Automatic Facebook “Like”
·         Update Facebook status
·         Post a tweet or follow a contact on Twitter
·         Connect on LinkedIn

The other part is commercial availability of a 5-pack $14.99 set of programmable tiles, which will be available for purchase both online and in carrier stores from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Verizon. I've seen other programmable NFC tags, but thus far nothing in store or as readily available as what Samsung is making available today. 


The tags include a MIFARE 1kB NFC memory chip which supports a 100,000 write lifetime and 10 year data retention period. All of the above listed phones support the programming NFC mode, and the NFC tags can optionally be programmed permanently. Samsung has already made its TecTiles page which includes details about the 5 pack and some more information live. 

Samsung gave me the opportunity to play around with both the TecTile NFC tags and application last week, and I came away impressed with how complete Samsung's solution is. Some of the use cases included making a tag for the nightstand which would silence your phone and set your alarm, or another for your desk at work which would set the phone to vibrate. Another use case includes making a tag with either your WiFi PSK or that of a guest network for allowing guests to easily attach to your network. I could see myself putting this to use, as entering my 29 character random PSK into each new review unit gets old, fast. Either way making NFC tags easily accessible for consumers is a huge step in the right direction toward making the technology more prevalent. 

Source: Samsung TecTiles, TecTiles (Google Play)

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  • Impulses - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - link

    Some of that actually sounds genuinely cool, any word on whether any part of this works with non Samsung phones?
  • Brian Klug - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - link

    I would assume that the tags read fine on non Samsung phones, though I'm not sure whether some of the actions (eg settings and application shortcuts) will work. Basically things like contact data embedded using the programmer should read fine on another reader.

    I know you can embed URLs, MIME data, and NFC RTD type data.

  • StackStack - Thursday, June 14, 2012 - link

    This app is much better than the Samsung offering ...and it integrates with Tasker so you can pretty much do EVERYTHING.

    Even better is that you can buy generic tags for about a buck each.
  • Selenagomes - Monday, July 2, 2012 - link

    Using NFC tags, the Galaxy S III can quickly and easily run apps, change settings, or perform a plethora of other actions with a simple tap. If you’ve heard of an app called Tasker, it essentially performs the same process but with location based
    functionality and there are several reasons i can share with you for how importance NFC is.More about <a href=" are Samsung’s NFC TecTiles for the Samsung Galaxy and what do they do?</a>
  • Joao Rostli - Tuesday, August 14, 2012 - link

    Tectiles use Mifare Classic chips. At the moment all Android phones can read/write tectiles. BlackBerry's and Nokia 610 not.
    For other questions or doubts about Tectiles, SmartTags, Tag+, Mifare and much, much more;
  • radium69 - Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - link

    The Sony Experia S already has this feature for a few months, including 3 tags with the phone.

    Just to give you a heads-up :)
    Kind Regards,
  • Peterjames229 - Friday, June 22, 2012 - link

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  • tectilesscavengerhunt - Friday, September 7, 2012 - link

    I created a simple instruction list for doing a scavenger hunt with TecTiles. It seemed like a cool idea...
  • Azethoth - Friday, May 3, 2013 - link

    When I go to Starbucks, my phone makes a "3d" barcode on the screen, and their scanner scans it, matches my account and debits it. Seconds later, the balance on the SB app updates, minus 1 mocha frappuccino.

    In what way is an NFC phone + app better than this? There is no radiation leakage to pick up. Unless you get a picture of the screen + barcode you are SOL in terms of traditional NFC hacking. It is much harder to miss someone attempting that.

    Bottom line: is NFC even the tech we want?

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