DIY NFC Social Button

Just tap to share your info, let’s do it!

We’re building a DIY clone of this:

Contrived, but the tech is cool.

Intro

What you saw were two technologies working together seamlessly:

  • NFC tags programmed with URLs (the Popl tags on the back of their phones)
  • An iPhone with Background Tag Reading Support (so no app is required to read the tag)

Popl isn’t that unique though, there are other companies making versions of this (eg. V1CE / Mobilo / TapTok / Linq) and those who will sell you the cards for you to DIY.

I’m making my own using a free app and cheap NFC tags.

Note: The above-mentioned services (may/do) offer greater additional functionality. All I’m creating is a simple tappable tag that takes someone to a single pre-programmed link!

What I used

  • Hardware
    • iPhone 12 Mini (iOS 15.2)
      • To write the tags and to read them without a dedicated app you can use any of these (or newer) iPhones: Xs / Xs Max / Xr.
    • NFC Tags
  • Software
    • NFC TagWriter by NXP
      • Link to App Store here
      • The app has a few quirks and bugs but it’s made by the people who make the NFC chips inside my tags so I chose it.
    • NFC TagInfo by NXP
      • Link to App Store here
      • Optional to install, you can use it to see more information about your tag.

Writing the tag

Post-Implementation Thoughts

With a fairly low amount of effort and cost I was able to replace the core functionality of these “Social Buttons”/”digital business cards” in a manner that doesn’t rely on some web service to work. It’s all 100% owned by me, my data isn’t stored on some third party server and it’s on my own hardware! All for much less than the R295 that a Popl costs in SA (price @ 16/12/2021).

The Future

I’ve reached the end of what I can do with URL data written to the NFC tag but iPhones can use these tags in another (and perhaps even cooler) way. Tapping a tag can be used to activate a specific Shortcut (see Automating iOS using Shortcuts). Placing your iPhone on the lounge coffee table to start your “Netflix Time” Shortcut or tapping a tag in your car to navigate to a specific destination is totally possible!

If you have any questions/would like to share your experience with NFC tags, leave a reply below. To get an email when I write another post, click here to subscribe. Thanks for reading!

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