NFC, vCards and Linking to Content Online – Explained
Being able to tap an NFC tag and receive contact information onto a mobile is an extremely useful application but in practice is not a user friendly one. vCards store a lot of information that is presented in different ways. For this reason phones interpret the information inconsistently, in some cases as plain text or sometimes not at all ! Add to this that nearly all mobile compatible NFC tags do not have sufficient memory to store a vCard and it becomes clear that this is not a good option.
To get the most from NFC you must understand that an NFC tag is designed to link to content rather than store it and as such in nearly all cases an NFC tag will contain either a web link or ID. This opens a wide range of possibilities such as…
Linking to a company webpage
Linking to maps or directions
Linking to a promotion or voucher
Linking to a PDF or presentation
Linking to a vCard online
For those who run their own website linking to a PDF or presentation is easy to do by uploading the files onto your web server. For those who do not run their own website or are not as tech savvy this can seem quite daunting; so with this in mind here is simply guide to get you started.
1. Setup a free Dropbox account online. Once Dropbox has downloaded you can then drag and drop items into your Dropbox folder and they will automatically be uploaded to your account online.
2. Once your file has uploaded login into your Dropbox account and find the file you wish to link to. Scroll to the right hand side of the page and click ‘Share link’ and then click ‘Get link’ in the pop up box. This will instantly copy the URL link to your clipboard.
3. Shorten your URL (optional). URLs given by Dropbox can appear quite long and random; using a shortened URL will make it easier to work with. There are a range of free online services that offer this however I would recommend tinyurl.com.
4. Encode the URL onto an NFC tag using one of the many free or low cost NFC apps available on Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry.
1. First create your vCard file. There are a number of free online tools that offer this service however I would recommend Mobile Dangooli. Once you have entered your details click ‘Create’ and the file (ending .vcf) will be downloaded.
2. Save the vCard file to your Dropbox folder and it will automatically be uploaded to your account online. Like the previous example click the option to ‘Share link’ and the web link (URL) will be copied to your clipboard.
3. Encode the URL onto an NFC tag using one of the many free or low cost NFC apps available on Android, Windows Phone or Blackberry.
Note : vCard files are not compatible with all mobile browsers and therefore are not guaranteed to work. For this reason RapidNFC does not offer vCard encoding or support.