Automate Your Phone

How to Automate Your Phone for Every Room in the House with NFC Tags

There are certain things you do on your phone every day, like launch navigation when you get in your car or set your alarm when you go to bed. With a few NFC tags and almost no effort, you can automate these processes and never fiddle with your phone again.

This process uses Near Field Communication (NFC), a feature we’ve talked about once before. You’ve probably even seen it in commercials, where people share playlists and perform other actions just by touching their phones together. Those uses haven’t really caught on, but NFC tags will work anywhere—they’re basically tiny stickers, keychains, and other trinkets that perform tasks when you tap them with your phone.

Not all phones have NFC capabilities, but many of them do, including most newer Android phones from manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, and even Google’s Nexus line. Before you continue, Google your phone to see if it has NFC built-in. We’re going to focus on Android phones in this post, but some Windows phones might also have NFC built-in, so you can use this post as inspiration. Sadly, the iPhone currently does not have NFC, so iPhone users are out of luck.

Start

What You’ll Get

When you’re done, you’ll have a few small stick-on tiles placed strategically around your house, car, office, or anywhere else you want. Holding your phone up to one of these tags will perform a simple action right away, so you don’t have to constantly fiddle with settings. For example, you could:

Turn on your ringer and Wi-Fi when you return home
Turn off the ringer and set your alarm when you go to bed
Start the Maps app and turn on Bluetooth when you get in your car
Launch your remote control app when you sit down on the couch to watch TV
Set a timer for 30 minutes when you put your clothes in the laundry
Start playing music or skip tracks
Check in to Foursquare, Facebook, or Google Latitude at your current location

…all with a quick tap of your phone. No need to open any menus, or tweak any settings yourself.

Some of you Android fans may recognize some of these ideas as things you can automate with Tasker, and that’s true. Apps like Tasker can do similar things based on location, what networks you’re connected to, the time of day, and more. What’s great about NFC tags is that they allow you do perform similar tasks in situations where Tasker isn’t as good at automating. For example, Tasker doesn’t always know when you’re in your car, or when you sit down to watch TV. In those cases, these little NFC tags are perfect. In fact, with this method, you can even launch a Tasker task by placing your phone next to an NFC tag, so the two work phenomenally well together.
Step One: Get Some NFC Tags
To start, of course, you’ll need to pick up some NFC tags (usually for a dollar or two apiece) that you can program with your desired actions. You’ll find a number of differen brands out there, but both TagsForDroid tags and Samsung TecTiles are very popular and come highly recommended. We used the Samsung tags for this tutorial, but you can use another brand if you so choose. Most tags come in a number of forms, too, like stickers, keychains, and more.

Task Launcher

Step Two: Download NFC Task Launcher.

Some tags (like Samsung’s) will come with their own app, but we’re going to use a better, third-party app called NFC Task Launcher. It’s powerful, easy to use, and completely free, so once you’ve got your NFC tags, grab a copy of Task Launcher for your phone of choice.
Step Three: Create Your Tasks

Assigning tasks to your NFC tags is incredibly easy. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Open up NFC Task Launcher and tap “Create a New Task.”

2. Choose NFC as your task Type.

3. Tap “Add Actions” to create your task. You have a number of categories and actions to choose from. For example, if you wanted this tag to turn Wi-Fi on, you would tap “Wireless & Networks” and check the “Wifi On/Off” box.

4. Click Next when you’ve chosen your actions, and configure them if given a prompt to do so.

5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for any additional tasks you want this tag to perform. When you’re done, tap “Save & Write.” Put your phone on top of the NFC tag you want associated with these actions. Your phone will make a sound and notify you when it successfully writes the tag. Press Done to finish.

Repeat this process for all your tags, then peel them off and stick them wherever you perform those actions most often. Here are a few examples of tasks you could perform.