Porting the NFC / NDEF Library to .NET Standard

With around 20,000 downloads, the “NFC / NDEF Library for Proximity APIs” is the most popular NFC library for C#. The library has initially been released in 2012 and has since been extended to cover many standardized as well as common NDEF use cases – also thanks to the support of the netidee open innovation platform.

Lately, the underlying platforms have evolved, and now the library has adapted. The main NFC library has now been ported to .NET Standard, which is a common baseline that makes the library compatible to even more different platforms. The new version 4.1.0 is now available under the open source LGPL license on GitHub, as well as on NuGet.

In addition to running on Windows, the library now fully supports all platforms that support .NET Core (like Linux and Mac), as well as Xamarin for Android and iOS. This makes it significantly easier to provide NFC functionality across different platforms – especially now that the iPhone also finally supports the open NDEF standard within NFC through the Apple Core NFC framework. Continue reading

First Windows 10 Compatibility Update for NFC interactor

The NFC interactor app has received its first update to improve compatibility with Windows 10 Mobile. The app itself remains compatible with Windows Phone 8.0+. The new version 8.1 is a free upgrade for all existing customers. You can now Download NFC interactor 8.1 from the Windows Store.

The main new feature is the new Windows 10 settings record, which allows calling various settings pages according to the new protocols for Windows 10. Some settings are only available for the mobile or desktop SKUs and have been marked accordingly.

Additionally, two deprecated content types have been removed: MixRadio has unfortunately been cancelled by the app developers. The Nokia Accessories app is also no longer available on current Windows Phones.

There is still a way to go for even better Windows 10 support. The store search does not yet list Windows 10 exclusive apps. Also, Spotify support has been temporarily disabled, as Spotify changed their search protocol for retrieving albums and songs – this feature will come back in a future update of NFC interactor.

Of course, the long term strategy is a complete re-write of the app for Windows 10 UWP; but due to the daunting size of the app and its tremendous amount of features, that’s a difficult task. As such, smaller compatibility updates will make sure the app works as nicely as possible under Windows 10 until then.

NFC / NDEF Library Now Supports Windows 10 UWP Apps

The NDEF Library for Proximity APIs / NFC has been updated to v3.1.1, which now adds full support for Windows 10! This means you can now seamlessly use the full library including the platform extension in your Windows 10 / UWP apps.

To provide a starting point for your apps and experiments, a new version of the NdefDemo-App is available for Windows 10. It showcases several features of the library, and makes it easy to test the NFC capabilities of your device. To make testing even easier, the demo app is now also available in the Windows 10 App Store.

In addition, a new class is available in the base NDEF library – it supports creating records that launch the Windows 10 settings app on various specific pages, including settings exclusive to PC or mobile. Due to the platforms moving on, two other record creating classes have been deprecated: NdefNokiaAccessoriesRecord and NdefWpSettingsRecord for Windows Phone 8.

Another change is the addition of a target title for the DriveTo and WalkTo types of Geo Tags, which now allow better navigation to places on Windows 10 with its new maps app.

The new library version is available on NuGet for easy integration into your own projects. You can also download the source code on GitHub, or the new Windows 10 NdefDemo app from the Windows Store.

NdefDemo for Windows 10 in the Store

Bluetooth Beacon Interactor 1.3

Based on user feedback, I’ve improved the Bluetooth Beacon Interactor. It now allows clearing all the visible information about beacon advertisements that have been found so far. Very useful for testing scenarios, as well as for better monitoring of beacons in your surroundings. Thanks for your suggestion! The updated app is available for download in the Windows 10 Store, the source code has already been updated on GitHub.

Bluetooth Beacon Interactor

Bluetooth Beacon Interactor – New Windows 10 App

The well-known NFC interactor app just got a new cousin – the “Bluetooth Beacon Interactor” app is now available for free download from the Windows 10 store.

It’s the world’s first Bluetooth Beacon scanning app for Windows 10 and lists all the information about nearby beacons in a clean and modern design. In addition, it understands the new Eddystone™ specification, an open Bluetooth® Smart beacon format from Google. This means that you will see all the transmitted information, including the beacon temperature, URLs (physical web) and much more. The app works on Windows 10 PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Bluetooth Beacon Interactor

Even better: the whole app is available as open source code for developers! It’s the sample app for the Universal Beacon Library, which you can use to easily integrate Bluetooth Beacons into your own Windows 10 UWP apps. The code is available via GitHub, and you can easily integrate the library into your apps through NuGet.

Lock NFC Tags with NFC interactor 8

The latest update of NFC interactor adds one of the most vital functions for real-life NFC tag usage: write-protecting tags. The app now allows locking a tag so that its contents can never be changed again – which is what you want when you stick a tag in the public, to prevent others from overwriting or modifying your contents. NFC interactor is the first app to implement this functionality on Windows Phone.

Lock NFC Tags with NFC interactor on Windows PhoneWrite-Only Tags

This is made possible through the new NFC hardware found in the latest Lumia devices. Therefore, locking tags is only available on the Lumia 730 / 735 / 830 at the moment. All future Windows Phone devices with NFC support are expected to support this new feature as well.

When starting the new NFC interactor version for the first time, the app checks if your phone supports locking tags, and (de)activates the app feature accordingly. If your phone does allow locking tags, you can also go to the settings page and define that all tags you write get locked by default – another great time saver if you’re dealing with large amounts of tags.

Note that locking tags is a one-way process: once the tag is write-protected, you can never change the contents again. Be careful and test your messages before locking tags!

Launch 3rd Party Apps – Improved Store Search

When you create a 3rd Party LaunchApp-tag that causes the phone to immediately start any app, NFC interactor supports you by offering a convenient store search feature. Simply enter the app name / a search term, then choose the exact app to launch from the list. NFC interactor takes care of finding out the ID.

NFC interactor 8 greatly improves the App Store search functionality – instead of searching the hardware-independent US store, it now integrates your country, language, device, manufacturer and operating system version in the search. This will make it easier to find the relevant apps you’re searching for, and enables finding most manufacturer-exclusive apps (e.g., Lumia Camera, Cinematograph, etc).

Other Changes and Availability

In addition, NFC interactor now allows launching the “project my screen” app – a new feature of the latest Windows Phone 8.1 updates, allowing to use a Miracast-Receiver to project your phone screen on a TV.

The new update of NFC interactor 8 is already available for download, and a free update to everyone who has purchased a previous version.

Cross-Platform NFC in HTML5 Apps with Apache Cordova

At the recent Advanced Developers Conference / Cross Platform in Mannheim, I presented an introduction on how to create cross-platform NFC apps with HTML5.

Instead of taking a look at how to make NFC itself work accross platforms, I wanted to shed some light on how you can write a cross-platform app that is utilizing NFC. For this, I used Apache Cordova to integrate with the NFC platform services on Android and Windows Phone (with iPhone / iOS hopefully supporting NFC app development as well sooner or later). For better NDEF content format support, the open source NDEF JavaScript library is providing a lot of options. The UI is created using the latest WinJS open source, cross-platform UI toolkit.

The slides of the session are now available for viewing on Slideshare, the example app is available on GitHub.

HTML5 NFC Demo App

NFC interactor featured in NFC Forum Product Showcase

The official NFC Forum has created the product showcase to spread the word about the impact of NFC technologies and to spark ideas for entrepreneurs and developers. Being the most powerful NFC tool for the Windows platform, NFC interactor is an integral part of very NFC creation process.

To check out NFC interactor on the NFC Forum product showcase, click here. Browse through the rest of the catalog to see many more interesting NFC ideas and products!

NFC Forum Product Showcase

NFC interactor 7.1 Brings Live Tag Size and Launches Cortana

Memory is scarce on NFC tags – the new NFC interactor 7.1 update helps you optimize your contents by showing you the live message size while you compose your NFC tag contents. Additionally, the new release adds a bunch of new Windows Phone 8.1 system apps, enabling you to launch the latest features like Cortana or VPN.

Furthermore, the new release combines the previous minor patches that we had immediately released to directly address issues reported by our users. The full change log compared to the previous NFC interactor 7 release:

  • Calculates and shows live message size while composing a tag
  • Launch new WP (8.1) system apps / settings, inlcuding: Cortana, VPN, Storage Sense, FM Radio, Files, HERE Maps, HERE Drive+, MixRadio, Nokia Camera, Nokia Camera Beta, Xbox Smartglass (and many more)
  • Fixes publishing issue when erasing tags with random contents
  • Fixes issue when attempting to add a detail to the Bluetooth Wizard
  • Fixes update problem coming from NFC interactor 6 with data in the “tag composer”

Download

The new NFC interactor 7.1 is available for download for all Windows Phone 8(.1) devices that support NFC. If you have previously purchased the app, it is a free update – your phone will notify you automatically.

NFC interactor 7.1 on the Lumia 930