While Android Pay might be the first thing that people think of when they talk about NFC apps, there's more to it than just mobile payments. A clever user can use NFC tags to automate a whole host of phone functions, such as passing contacts, silencing your phone, launching apps, or configuring your wireless settings. Check out these nine clever NFC apps for Android phones.
Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
First things first, though: Android Pay is Google's NFC-powered tap-to-pay payment system available to Android users on non-rooted Android 4.4 phones or later. Android Pay combines the ease of use with security, sparing you from fumbling around with cards or PINs while ensuring transaction security for your credit cards through a virtual account number. Even better, you still retain your card reward points
Formerly known as NFC Task Launcher, Trigger is a powerful Android automation app that allows you to automate numerous tasks and scripts for your smartphone based on a variety of triggers, such as NFC tags. Creative users can program a wide variety of tasks to be triggered with an NFC tag, such as silencing your phone when you tap an NFC tag on your nightstand, or turning on your Wi-Fi and killing your mobile data when you tap a tag at your doorway, or automatically connecting to your car's Bluetooth.
Tasker ($2.99) + Locale NFC Plugin ($1.53)
Tasker is another well-regarded Android automation tool. With the addition of plugins, such as the Locale NFC Plugin, users can use NFC tags as triggers to initiate Tasker tasks. As with Trigger, user creativity is the main limit to what you can do, as you can configure a wide variety of tasks that you can trigger with different NFC tags.
DIMPLE.IO uses programmable NFC stickers that you can attach to your phone to effectively give you 4 programmable buttons stuck right onto your mobile device. Simply attach the DIMPLE.IO tags near your phone's NFC radio, and you can then use the app to program the buttons to do everything from calling emergency numbers, launching app shortcuts, triggering hardware settings, and more. The stickers are a bit pricey, with single stickers with four programmable buttons setting you back $24.99 or $14.99 for half-size tags with two buttons.
Hitting the snooze button on an alarm clock app is too easy. In order for Puzzle Alarm Clock to stop beeping, users need to solve a puzzle, or physically get up to an NFC tag or QR code. The app comes with a variety of random puzzles and the option to automatically open an app right after the alarm. To get even more of a start on the day, try placing the NFC tag right next to your washroom sink so you can get straight to freshening up in the morning.
For something a bit more full featured, check out Sleep As Android, an excellent sleep cycle tracker and alarm that uses your on-board sensors to track your sleep and help you wake up at just the right time. Like Puzzle Alarm Clock, users can set Sleep As Android's alarm clock to shut off only when tapped against an NFC tag, but the app also comes with a wealth of extras like sleep tracking and noise/snoring logging, Android Wear integration, and more.
Sharing your Wi-Fi password with visiting friends can be a bit of a chore, especially if you're a fan of cryptographically strong passwords loaded with symbols, numbers and alternating cases. Enter InstaWiFi, an app that allows users to share Wi-Fi network login details through an NFC tag or QR code. Afterward, users can simply tap their phone against the NFC tag or scan the QR code to connect to the network.
NFC Tools is a combination NFC tag reader and writer, allowing you to read technical details and information stored in the tag, as well as write information into non-write-protected tags. Users can save text, links, details, GPS locations, addresses, configured Bluetooth connections and more. The addition of companion app NFC Tasks allows users to create automated task scripts that can range from enabling or disabling network settings and alarms, launching Tasker tasks, configuring wireless networks and more.
NFC ReTag Pro ($1.99)
NFC ReTag Pro allows users to reuse write-protected NFC tags (such as old elevator tags, badges, keycards, pricetags) by storing the tag's device ID and using that as a trigger for a variety of tasks. NFC ReTag Pro comes with a variety of actions that you can trigger with a tag, such as phone settings (volume, brightness, auto-sync), network controls and an app or Tasker task launcher, among other uses. A neat feature with NFC ReTag Pro is how it lets you program in tag cycles, with different tasks for each scan.