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.

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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