12
Jun
tectiles

NFC is one of those odd features that everybody wants in their phone, but few people are sure how they'll use it yet. Payments systems are slow to catch on and Beam functionality requires a friend with an NFC phone and a need to share data that isn't easier to share via the internet. Samsung, who is quick to note it has the largest NFC-enabled userbase, aims to change that with TecTiles: NFC tags that you can program to perform tasks when you place your phone near them.

2012-06-13_00h47_51

The concept sounds why-didn't-anyone-do-this-sooner awesome. For $15, you can get a pack of five TecTiles. You can then program them to perform a variety of actions when your phone is placed on them. So, as a sample application, you could have one tile on your desk at work that is programmed to send your spouse a message saying, "Leaving the office now. Be home soon!" Tap your phone to the tile when you leave and boom. Spousal duties fulfilled!

The applications seem pretty robust. Tags are capable of changing device settings such as Bluetooth, WiFi and ringer volume. Conceivably, a user could program a "low battery mode" tag: one tap and it disables WiFi, Bluetooth, and any other unnecessary communication signals.

The tags can also be programmed with information. A business could use a tag to let patrons automatically open up their website. Social network integration means a tag could be programmed to follow a Twitter account when tapped. The tags even have support for Foursquare and Facebook check-ins. Tags can also be programmed with personal contact info. One tap and you can add your info to a person's address book.

While anything NFC will be limited in utility until NFC devices become more ubiquitous, it's a great thing that Samsung is getting ahead of the game on this one. Galaxy S II/III devices are certainly among the most popular NFC-enabled devices, to the tune of millions of users. The sooner those users get used to the idea of not just reading data with NFC, but writing it, the better. And the more awesome the future will look.

Only one thing could make this more awesome: if Samsung made this available to any and all NFC-enabled phones. And, wouldn't you know it, they do! According to the press release below, TecTiles "are easy to program with any NFC-enabled smartphone," which means that any NFC phone can join in the fun. The tags can also be reprogrammed as often as you'd like. So feel free to go nuts!

Samsung says the TecTiles are available online now, and its site offers a Buy Now link, though it's currently not working. Hopefully, this will be fixed soon.

Update 6/13 12:46am: The Buy Now link is now operational.

You can also download the TecTiles app from the widget below. It will require an NFC-enabled phone to work.

Update 6/13 11:17am: As has been pointed out repeatedly here and on Google+, other NFC systems like this do exist. The primary advantage, here, is that these are being marketed by Samsung. Which means, yes, it will probably be more expensive than alternatives, but it will also reach a much wider audience, which will be good for the uptake of NFC systems by the average user. Perhaps I should have said why hasn't any manufacturer done this sooner.

Additionally, to clarify again, as was stated in the original article, these tags DO work with non-Galaxy phones. There is nothing exclusive or Samsung-specific about the tags other than the marketing.

So, how would you use a programmable NFC tag?

Samsung Mobile Puts All The Pieces in Place to Bring NFC To The Masses

Inexpensive, easy to use Samsung TecTiles™ Programmable NFC Tags can be customized to launch apps, send text messages, share contact information, change phone settings and more, with an NFC-enabled Galaxy smartphone

DALLAS — June 13, 2012 — Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung Mobile) is helping consumers realize the potential of NFC technology today with the creation of Samsung TecTiles™ and the TecTile™ programming application. With the largest user base of NFC-enabled devices in the United States and TecTiles available in all four major carrier stores and at major online retailers at the launch of the Galaxy S III, Samsung is ensuring NFC becomes a part of daily life.

With a simple tap of an NFC-enabled phone to a TecTile, consumers are able to automate everyday functions of a smartphone including sending a “headed/at home” text message, silencing the phone when entering a meeting, setting an alarm, and dimming the display when going to bed.

Samsung TecTiles will transform how businesses large and small engage with consumers. On premise, TecTiles enable consumers to check-in on Facebook® or foursquare®, connect to Wi-Fi® or download content. Off-premise, businesses can use TecTiles as a way to market to and engage with consumers by enabling reward programs and to download discount offers or content.

“With millions of NFC-enabled Samsung Galaxy smartphones currently in the market and the arrival of our flagship device Galaxy S® III, Samsung saw an opportunity to expand the value of NFC beyond mobile payments,” said Dale Sohn, president of Samsung Telecommunications America, the No. 1 mobile phone provider in the U.S. and worldwide[1]. “The launch of Samsung TecTiles is another example of Samsung’s ability to innovate new products and applications that improve the way we use our mobile devices for everyday tasks.”

Samsung TecTiles are easy to program with any NFC-enabled smartphone and the free application, which can be found in the Google Play™ marketplace. TecTiles can be reprogrammed as often as needed to complete any of the following functions on an NFC-enabled phone:

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

Communication

· 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

Social

· Automatic Facebook “Like”

· Update Facebook status

· Post a tweet or follow a contact on Twitter

· Connect on LinkedIn®

Samsung NFC-Enabled Android TM Smartphones

· Samsung Galaxy S® III on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon

· Samsung Galaxy S® II on T-Mobile

· Galaxy Nexus TM on Verizon, Sprint and GSM Unlocked

· Nexus TM S ® 4G on Sprint

· Samsung Galaxy S® Blaze ® 4G on T-Mobile

Pricing/Availability

Priced at $14.99 for a pack of five, TecTiles programmable NFC sticker tags are now available for purchase online and in-store at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. The Samsung TecTiles app is now available for download at the Google Play store.

Links for more information:

Source: Samsung TecTiles

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • dms

    Isn't this similar to the Sony Xperia Smart Tags?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LfkFgtoQtFQ I'm not sure they work on the same principle, I don't know if the smart tags are programmable and each phone that touches them gets the same settings or if the phone recognizes the tag and sets its settings based on a tag id or something like that. The end result is pretty similar though, although there's more flexibility to the Samsung TecTiles seeing as they're programmable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

      NFC is a standard and any NFC tag works with any NFC reader (I'm 99% sure, unless Samsung/Sony put some odd lock on them but that is highly unlikely).  I use  NFC Task Launcher (located in Google Play store) and tags can be programmed (and reprogrammed as much as you'd like, you can also lock them but can NOT unlock them once locked) to work with all Android phones.  The setting changes are stored in the tag (tho you can save setting changes on the phone and thus that tag won't work on any other phone unless reprogrammed).

      I have the Galaxy Nexus and have been doing this for months.  It is awesome.

  • http://twitter.com/_sankari A. Sankari

    I'm a bit annoyed that the app doesn't work with the Nexus S, or at least in Finland it doesn't :(

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

      Try NFC Task Launcher in the Google Play store.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    It's not clear in the description (in fact, it's worded in a way to be intentionally misleading), but the $3/tag price makes me 99% certain these aren't reprogrammable tags. They are tags with unique identifiers that you can program your phone to respond with actions when read. The difference is that a program isn't stored in the tag itself, it's stored in the phone and only that phone (and others with the same programming) are going to get anything from reading the tag. It doesn't deplete the effectiveness of the tags or the app that runs the instructions, it just affects how you work with them.

    • Bob

      The description is clear as day. The tags are easily rewritten.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      I played with the tags and the software, and there's an option to make a final write if you select it, but otherwise they're perfectly re-writable.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        Oh, ok. I guess that would make these a bit more useful. Is there any indication of how much data the tags can store?

  • http://twitter.com/philipleaper Phil Leaper

    Arn't they basically the same as these:  http://tagsfordroid.com/tags/Home.html - they're $15 for 10 and they work on most devices.  There's nothing particularly 'SIII' about this technology - why make it so closed?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1519620310 Zac Rodriguez

      Those are what I use with my Galaxy Nexus and they work awesome!

      • shonangreg

        How do you use them? Ideas for uses other than what is listed? Stick one on a bike to start GPS and launch maps and a tracker and turn on the ringer? Put one on home/work desk to start WiFi and launch calendar?

        It seems these have to be used on objects or places where we repeatedly go or use and we would want to perform several functons.

        Brainstorming here -- feel free to expand my list or categories:

        One in a meishi/business card case could send contact info. One on your car dashboard could turn on bluetooth and launch a music player, another one start GPS and maps. One in your briefcase to enter silent mode and launch mail nad calender.

        How about your locker at the gym or school? At the entrnce to the station? In your wallet? Book bag, fanny pack, hiking bag/shoes, keychain, big purse, little purse, hdmi connector/accessories bag, bedside table, girlfriend's house, . . .

    • neil

      just ordered 5 thanks!

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      Pretty sure the tags are the same, just Samsung marketing speak, but their TecTiles app does contain custom scenarios you can program, in which case you would need TecTiles to re-enact them. I'm sure other NFC tag apps on the Play Store can achieve similar results - but hey, the app is free at least.

    • Mei

      Can get cheaper NFC tags at buynfctags .com.

      The Mifare 1k keychains are only $1.10 each. Stickers and token types are similarly priced.

  • Me

    Apparently its incompatible with my S3 :)

  • http://profiles.google.com/cieplok Michał Ciepły

    It's s**t like this Samsung. App is not available in Poland. 
    Can anyone extract APK and put somewhere for a download? I want check it with standard NFC tags. 

    • http://dmonzel.com dmonzel

      Just use NFC Task Launcher.

  • http://karrolskorner.com/ Karl K.

    Apparently its incompatible with my S3 :)

  • James

    Yep, NFC Task Launcher is much much more easy, plus it can work with Tasker.You'll never get that with a Samsung App.

  • NeoLawliet

    The app is geographically restricted. Can anyone post the APK?

    • shonangreg

      Yeah, my Galaxy Note in Japan (SC-05D) has NFC, but no Google Wallet here yet. Google Play says this app is not available in my country. Seems strange for this kind of app.

  • Dhendy

    Its great to see more options out there but unless Samsung manage to get taker integration i can't see this being better than NFC task launcher

  • FirefighterMatt56

    I just use tags from TagsForDroid (double the amount + a keychain for the same price) and NFC Task Launcher. You can do the same things except for maybe make a call (which would seem problematical since anyone that scans it would be calling that person. I can only see it in a business standpoint). Plus, if that is all that TecTiles can do in it's app, NFC TL can do a lot more. And if NFC TL can't do it, Tasker (which you can have NFC TL integrate) can.

    • Lexster

      Thanks a lot for this. Just ordered a couple to give them a try. I really like that NFC keychain...can think of a ton of cool ideas for that!

      • FirefighterMatt56

         I have mine set up as a contact card. I can use it to test profiles on the go also.

        • Lexster

          Yeah, that was my first thought to use it for, too. ^_^

    • http://dmonzel.com dmonzel

      Came here to say this exact thing. ways to beat me by a couple hours.

  • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

    Ah, yes, a low battery mode tag would be a much more logical way to handle switching to said mode than having it simply respond to a low battery percentage, or an on-screen button. Let me just search for wherever I put that tag while I'm out and about...

    • FirefighterMatt56

       Tasker! It goes with you!

  • DrMacinyasha

    Uhh... Someone tell me how this is better than picking up a sample pack of NFC tags from Tagstand for $15 (which comes out as 1/3 the price per-tag compared to Samsung's overpriced crap), then using NFC Task Launcher in the Google Play Store to do all the same things.

    Change phone settings, join WiFi, send an SMS, display message, share vCard, open a URL, Foursquare checkin, Tweet, they're all covered. The only thing NFC Task Launcher doesn't have right now is Facebook or LinkedIn integration, though that'd be easy enough by just having either app set as the default for their respective domain, and writing a URL on a tag to open a page on said domain.

    I've been using a standard NFC system with my Galaxy Nexus for the past few weeks at work: I have a Mifare Classic 1K sticker on my desk that when I tap with my phone, checks me into Foursquare, dims the screen, mutes all sound, and turns off WiFi. I didn't need to pay Samsung $3 plus the cost of a phone to have this functionality. The fact that I have a Nexus is just a coincidence, as this could be done with an HTC Amaze, or any other NFC-equipped device.

    Samsung's pulling an Apple here, folks. Don't buy their overpriced, locked-in, compatible-only-with-us BS. NFC is a /standard/ and should be treated as such. 

    You can find more information here:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Near_Field_Communication http://www.tagstand.com/collections/nfc-kits/products/nfc-hobbyist-starter-kit-15-stickers https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jwsoft.nfcactionlauncher

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/author/eric-ravenscraft/ Eric Ravenscraft

      I updated the original article. Never meant to imply that these are superior to other existing products. Just that it's cool Samsung is bringing them to a wider audience.

      However, there is nothing "locked-in" or "compatible-only-with-us" about these tags. As I stated in the original article, and again in the update, these tags are designed to work with any NFC-enabled phone.

      I agree that these tags don't need to be twice as expensive as the competition, but $15 still isn't a lot of money, and they'll be placed in retail locations alongside the Galaxy S III at all the major carriers. It's a big deal no matter how you slice it.

      • KC_exactly

        You might fix the part about local mobile retailers carrying them now. No one has them.

        • http://twitter.com/Wr41thX Wr41thX

          The At&t corporate store I work for has had them for about a week. :)

        • KyleRay

          You can buy them all over the web. I've seen them at Sprint Store, etc. Just because you are hater doesn't mean everyone in the World is. Samsung isn't on track to sell 200 Million Smartphones alone this year for nothing you fool! .....;-P

  • Eric Jones

    Are you guys getting paid by Samsung? Why are you gushing about how great this is, when it's overpriced compared to the tags Android Police linked to in a previous post. You can get 5 tags, and an extra tag keychain for $10.99. Sure this app is free, but does it work with non TecTiles, or have they made a proprietary standard? Does it work better than NFC task writer? Oh you didn't even cover that, nevermind! I can't say if the Samsung tags work with other readers, but I can say that the tectile app works with other tags. I used the Tags for droid tags, and programmed them and read them. I didn't spend enough time to see which app is better, or if it's worth paying the $2 for the NFC task writer, all I did was turn wifi on. If there isn't a switch mode, I don't know if I would use the tectile app instead.

    In case Mr. Ravenscraft doesn't know what article I'm talking about... 
    http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/04/12/fun-with-nfc-automating-simple-tasks-with-an-nfc-capable-phone/ 

  • Guest

    Stick one on your behind and program the phone to play a siren if you sit on it. :)

  • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

    What state does my phone need to be in to use these or something like droidtags? Do I have to turn my screen on before scanning? Do I need to open a scanning app? 

    • FirefighterMatt56

       Screen on and unlocked. No need to open an app.

  • selena gomes

    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.
    More about What are Samsung’s NFC TecTiles for the Samsung Galaxy and what do they do?
     

  • Zakhmi Dil