With Samsung’s programmable TecTiles, NFC may finally get relevant

Samsung TecTiles

Imagine walking into a coffee shop and swiping your phone across a NFC tag to get access to Wi-Fi, instead of begging for the Wi-Fi password. Or, imagine swiping your phone as you enter a store to check-in on Foursquare.

With Samsung’s TecTiles, a new programmable NFC (near-field communication) tag format, you’ll be able to do all of that, and more — assuming you own an NFC-enabled Samsung Android phone.

Samsung is launching TecTiles alongside its much-anticipated Galaxy S III smartphone later this month, in a clear bid to make NFC something more than just the pipe dream standard of the mobile payments industry. I’m not yet convinced that TecTiles will be a hit for Samsung, but the tags are definitely a much-needed step forward for the NFC format.

The TecTiles themselves don’t look particularly high-tech — they’re just small stickers with built-in NFC chips. You can program them using the free Samsung Tectile app on any NFC-enabled Android smartphone (Google Play shows that the HTC One X supports the app). They’ll retail for $14.99 for a pack of five in carrier stores, as well as on Samsung’s website.

I was able to see the TecTiles in action at a small press gathering earlier this month, and they worked as advertise. Using the Samsung Galaxy S III, I was able to swipe several pre-programmed TecTile tags to do things like turn the phone silent, add a business contact, and change the screen brightness.

Programming a TecTile was dead simple as well. In addition to the items I mentioned above, you can also program the TecTiles to do things like make a call, updated your Facebook status, launch an app, or connect on LinkedIn. Samsung will undoubtedly add even more interesting functionality to the format over time.

Filed under: mobile, VentureBeat

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