Available today from Samsung, $15 for pack of five tags
Samsung has announced the availability of its second-generation TecTiles tags, tiny writable NFC stickers that can be used to trigger various actions on a smartphone. For example, used with the TecTiles app, they can be programmed to check in on social networks, or toggle various settings on the device when it's within range.
TecTiles 2 are compatible with all NFC-enabled Samsung phones, and the company says they may work on other Android-based phones with NFC too, though it's making no promises. Unlike first-gen TecTiles, TecTiles 2 are fully compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S4. (Go figure.)
The tags are available today from Samsung's online store, priced at $15 for a pack of five, and they'll be starting to appear in brick-and-mortar stores from June. Hit the Google Play link above to grab the TecTiles app, or the source link below to buy the tags themselves.
More: Samsung TecTiles
New NFC capable Soundbars will allow easy pairing and streaming with a range of mobile devices
According to a report from the folks over at Pocket-Lint, Sony has confirmed that they will be releasing a new range of premium Soundbars later this year. Of interest is the news that they will be NFC capable too, which means with a simple tap you should be able to share your music from your mobile device, to the Soundbar.
There's very little else to go on at the moment. As you may expect with un-announced products, Sony is being somewhat scarce on details beyond this initial teaser. Considering we'll be on the ground in Berlin this September at the annual IFA show, it's quite possible we'll get our first look then.
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.
A great file transfer tool for power users
As advanced as modern mobile devices are, getting files from one phone or tablet to another can still be problematic. Cloud storage apps like Dropbox can clog up your Internet connection. The BlueTooth-based Android Beam is slow, and can only be used for certain items. And S Beam, though faster, is restricted to Samsung devices.
Enter SuperBeam, an app that aims to take advantage of a range of wireless technologies to juggle files between Android phones. The heavy lifting is done over Wifi or Wifi Direct, with an NFC connection or QR code being used to get things going.
First up, both devices must be running the SuperBeam app. Next, select the file you want to send -- either in the gallery app, or a file manager Astro or OI -- and choose SuperBeam. The app will then ask you if the device you're sending to is on the same network. If so, it'll send your bits over that network; if not, a Wifi Direct connection will eventually be established between the two.
From there you've got a few options. The easiest is NFC -- hold the two devices back-to-back and press the screen on the sending device. Alternatively you can use the "SuperBeam Scanner" app from the app drawer and scan the QR code on the sending device's screen.
Transfer speeds will depend on the Wifi capabilities of the devices (and infrastructure) you're using, but we got solid transfer rates of up to 20Mbps between our Nexus 4 and HTC One on a 5GHz Wifi N network. SuperBeam isn't as simple as S Beam or Android Beam, but its ability to transfer just about anything between just about any device makes it more versatile for power users. It's available for free on the Google Play Store for phones and tablets running Android 4.0 and above.
A few folks have written in, asking about that weird symbol that's in the status bar of their AT&T HTC One X following the recent update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
The answer is a simple as it is useless: It's the NFC logo. And it doesn't do a damned thing.