From type and click, to tap and touch

Go back just 10 years and most of the physical action we carried out with a computer was clicking and typing, to communicate, to confirm orders, to transfer files, all at a desk.   To a large degree we still do this, but with development of mobile technology such as tablets and smartphones.  Physical action to complete something we do over the Internet is no longer confined to the boundaries of a desk and mouse.   This is due to a little term you will  start to hear a lot about; near field communication, or as it is normally abbreviated to NFC.


NFC is has been added to newer smartphones and if you’ve just been issued new bank card it is possible that NFC has been incorporated in them.  Although at this stage not all banks/building societies are signed up to it.  So what is it?  Why is it in a smart phone or debit card?


Lets start with the cards.  If your debit card has NFC technology the following symbol will be displayed on it.  Sometimes without the hand just the four curved lines.


If you have ever used a card at a store to make a purchase, by slotting it in the card machine and keying in your pin.  NFC cuts this out.  If the card machine is compatible, the four curved lines will appear on the screen, then all you need to do is tap your card on top of the screen.  Within a few seconds it’s printing out the receipt.  From experience it has worked well  in every store I have been able to use it.  And you haven’t got the worry of trying to keep your pin entry covered.


With the smartphone NFC has introduced  a fun and may be a much more sociable element to technology.  Something which will counteract the practice of phubbing.   If a group of friends or some of your relatives have NFC on their phones, it makes it easier to share music and photo files.  If you meet up in a coffee shop, shopping centre or pub, and want to swap files there are two ways of doing this quickly, it depends on what types of  phone you have.


If you have an iPhone, Apple uses NFC in a system called Airdrop.  It enables you to send files over the air to your friend or relative who is in the same room.  With a phone that uses the Android operating system NFC is used in the Bump app, but in this method, the two phones have to touch each other or bump. There are onscreen instructions to follow, if you want to carry this out. This type of exchange is also useful for concerts and conferences.


Tap and touch another couple of methods to get used to.  However, if NFC leads to doing away with storing a pin number, I am all for that.  Especially, having to keep track on so many passwords!   May be at some point  NFC will help us out of that pickle as well, we can only hope.

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