This section provides an overview of Near Field Communication (NFC) and proximity communication on Windows Phone 8, and also the following two guides addressing key use cases in more detail:

  • Using NFC to exchange information — how to exchange information over NFC between two devices, or between a device and a tag. In addition, Further reading chapter at the end of the article provides an extensive list of additional articles, examples, and projects to study.
  • Using NFC to establish a persistent connection — how to open a persistent long range connection between devices either by tapping the devices together or by searching for nearby devices over Bluetooth, using a simple peer-to-peer chat application – NFC Talk – as an example.

Overview of NFC and proximity communications

Windows Phone 8 supports proximity communication using NFC technology. Proximity communication means that devices that are physically close to each other are able to easily establish a communication channel – for example, to open a socket between two instances of an application running in two separate devices – just by tapping the devices together. This is a completely no-hassle, fast and fun way to exchange information between co-located devices. NFC, which has a range of roughly 4 cm and communication speed of 424 kbit/s, can be used directly to transmit data or to set up alternative longer distance or faster communication paths like Bluetooth or WLAN.

NFC is not a new technology to Nokia, as it has been supported in various Nokia handsets already for years, and now that this technology is available also on the Windows Phone 8 platform it is opening all new possibilities for Windows Phone developers, applications, services and businesses. Just tap and connect – imagine the possibilities for applications!

NFC has the following key characteristics:

  • Communication occurs when devices are within 3–4 centimeters (1 to 1.5 inches) of each other.
  • Communication is highly selective and intentional because users are intentionally bringing their devices together to connect
  • Maximum theoretical data transfer rate is 424 kbits/s.
  • Typical data transfer rates range from 30 kbits/s to 60 kbits/s.
  • Communication can also occur between an NFC device and an unpowered NFC chip, or tag.

In Windows Phone 8, Proximity API is used for NFC tasks to:

  • Read and write NFC tags.
  • Exchange data between devices using NFC.
  • Use NFC to set up a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection between two phones for further longer range wireless communication.
In general NFC devices are compatible with each other over platform and vendor borders and the standardized content transfer and communication takes place according to protocols defined by NFC Forum. This means that Windows Phone 8 and other NFC compliant devices, also from other manufacturers and even running other operating systems, can exchange content in this user friendly manner.

Webinar: Developing NFC apps in Windows Phone 8

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This webinar (43 min) introduces the basics of NFC and how the technology is implemented in Nokia Lumia phones. Also demonstrated is how to use NFC via Windows Phone 8’s Proximity API to share content, read data from and write data to NFC tags, and to create your own application-launch tags.

Additional webinar material:

Last updated 21 May 2014

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