Android NFC technology: what is it for and how does it work?

Android NFC technology: what is it for and how does it work?


The NFC or Near Field Communication allows to transmit information from one device to another automatically and very quickly, and without any need for matching. Find all the answers to your questions through this complete file devoted to NFC technology and more particularly to Android NFC .

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The essential

The NFC technology allows data transfer between two terminals in the manner of Bluetooth.

NFC technology: Improved bluetooth

The NFC (Near Field Communication) or CCP (Communication Near Field in French) is a technology that allows two devices that are very close (less than 4 cm distance) to send data very quickly ( less than a second). These terminals can be two smartphones or a telephone and another device such as a payment terminal or a speaker operating remotely.

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Extension of the ISO / IEC 14443 standard, derived from RFID technology, it uses low speeds (between 106 and 414 kbps) and does not require any pairing (unlike bluetooth for example), which allows two devices to communicate automatically from that they are close to each other.

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Three different operating modes for NFC technology

The card emulation mode , which allows a device with the NFC as a contactless card. Coupled with a smartphone, the NFC connects to the SIM card, where encrypted data can be stored. Thus, NFC allows you to transform your mobile device into a contactless Android NFC payment card, loyalty card, transport ticket, etc.

The reader mode , which turns your mobile player terminal “tags” (electronic tags), which provides information or launch an automatic application on your phone. This operating mode can for example be used in a museum tour, where you can find out more about a particular work by bringing your smartphone towards the tag. These NFC tags also make it possible to know the traceability of a food product, the ecological footprint of a toy, or the waiting time for the next bus in an equipped bus shelter.

The peer to peer fashion , which enables the exchange of information between two devices equipped with NFC . So, for example, you can transfer photos, videos or texts from one device to another just having to move them closer to each other.

An NFC tag , what is it?

You may be familiar with the flash code, this symbol that must be taken in order to obtain information via your internet connection. The NFC tag works a bit the same way, except that there is no longer any need to take a photo, or to have access to the internet: equipped with NFC technology , these electronic tags allow access to information that interests you by just having to bring your smartphone near one of these little labels. Programmable oneself on the internet, tags also have the advantage of being passive targets: composed of a chip and an antenna, they operate without power.

How do I know if my smartphone is equipped with Android NFC technology?

While Sony was the first brand to put an NFC chip in its mobiles, today most Android phones are NFC equipped and some Apple devices also support NFC on iOS , proof that NFC technology has conquered the world. market. To activate it on your phone, simply go to the wireless connection settings of your device, then turn it on.

A chip NFC What is it?

An NFC chip is what equips devices offering NFC technology such as smartphones, bank cards or transport cards and other electronic devices incorporating this technology.

Please note, it may happen that some models of older laptops do not have Android NFC technology , and even less iOS NFC if it is an old iPhone. In this case some operators may offer it as an additional option with your package.

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To activate the NFC on your smartphone, nothing could be simpler:

What about security with NFC?

For NFC advocates , data transfer between two NFC-equipped devices is extremely secure for two main reasons: compliance with standards (14443 and FeliCa) using encryption and authentication algorithms, as well as the short distance required to communicate between two devices equipped with NFC, which automatically reduces the risk of data theft.

On the side of the recalcitrant, we point the finger at security flaws that could seriously harm NFC users : in early 2016, the Chaos Computer Club , a group of German hackers, for example managed to hack bank cards equipped with NFC technology. . How? ‘Or’ What ? Simply equipped with a smartphone and a specific application, the hackers were able to retrieve the PIN code of a number of bank cards equipped with NFC , by simply placing their phone on the cards (in the metro, for example). To remedy these possible data thefts, banks have limited contactless payments to 30 euros, and anti-piracy cases supposed to intercept the airwaves were created. We can also mention the problem of grouping all your data into a single terminal which, in the event of loss or theft, will leave you completely helpless.

Finally, by using NFC on a regular basis , you create a whole lot of data about your consumption habits, which can be exploited for commercial purposes without your knowledge . Fortunately, a strict framework for this technology is provided by the National Commission for Computing and Liberties (CNIL), the body which is supposed to keep a close eye on the protection of consumer data.