Friday, July 13, 2012

Xperia™ SmartTags and the Samsung Galaxy SIII

As I've stated before I recently bought a Samsung Galaxy SIII GT-I9300 from MobiCity. Now, one of the neat things it has is a Near Field Communication chip and antenna built into it. What, I hear you ask, can this be used for? Well, there's Google Wallet (US only) and Android & S Beam, but the thing that interests me, and probably you, is it's interactions with NFC tags.

These are the four tags you get when you buy 
a pack of SmartTags (I got mine off eBay, of course).

The Xperia tags only come in four variations, meaning you only have those four even if you buy more. They're only addressed four different ways:

Blue tag: semc://liveware/A1/1/NT1/1/smarttags1

Red tag: semc://liveware/A1/1/NT1/2/smarttags1

Black tag: semc://liveware/A1/1/NT1/3/smarttags1

White tag: semc://liveware/A1/1/NT1/4/smarttags1

Now this does of course mean if you had some spare NFC tags laying around you could, perhaps, maybe, make your own... Which can be accomplished using the NFC Task Launcher to write the URI's you want to whatever tag you want...

To get these tags to work with your phone you'll need the Xperia™ SmartTags app (the widget on the left) and the LiveWare™Manager app (shortcut on the right) from Google Play. Below is a screencap of the SmartTag app once your tags are registered, as well as a screencap of the tag edit menu where you add or remove actions that tag will do. The bottom image is a popup notification that happens when a cards actions are being taken:

You can of course change the names of the tags from the factory settings. The tags can perform many tasks, such as toggling Bluetooth on and off, play and audio file, send a text message or make a call. All this it can do, except for anything to do with turning GPS on and off (which would be nice if an update were to include it. Imagine having a car tag that turned Bluetooth on, GPS on, opened a navigation app and adjusted the volume). 

As for the LiveWare™ Manager app you'll find it kinda neat, but somewhat useless (Microsoft's on{x} is way more useful and powerful. But you have to have LiveWare to use the tags). It will allow you to enact actions based on certain changes the phone detects, such as plugging the charger in or pushing a pair of headphones into the audio socket As you can see from the second image I have the Bloomberg app open and show me my stock listings when I charge my phone:

All in all NFC in you mobile device is something that has been a long time coming, and something the world could use a lot more often!

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