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Most consumers aren’t  even aware of near field communication (NFC). It is common to believe that NFC still seems like a far-off technology, not really something they’ll use on a regular basis. But Samsung is trying to champion the short-distance wireless technology and is introducing new programmable NFC tags that work with a new mobile application on NFC-enabled Android devices.

Samsung is rolling out Samsung TecTiles, which can be programmed to do about 25 tasks, from changing phone settings or making a call or text to joining a Wi-Fi network, opening an app or web page or posting an update or tweet. Users who tap the back of their phone against a TecTile tag could also do an check-in at a location or they could open a map, swap business contact information or “like” something. The tags, which will be sold by all four major U.S. carriers in packs of five for $14.99, will work with a free TecTile app, downloadable through Google Play. The app will allow users to program the NFC tags, which can be reprogrammed as many times as needed.

Samsung believes that with its latest crop of Samsung Galaxy S III phones, along with a handful of earlier NFC-equipped devices, it will have the biggest number of NFC-enabled devices in consumers’ hands, putting it in a place to help drive adoption of the technology.

“Everything has to start somewhere,” said Nick DeCarlo, Vice President of Product Planning at Samsung Mobile US. “We’re trying to teach the market to enable some of these behaviors in the future.”

The fact that users can actually program the tags themselves lets them get personal and creative with the technology. DeCarlo showed off some examples in a briefing including the ability to tap your phone while leaving your office to send a spouse a message alerting them you’re on your way. Others uses include tapping a phone to set an alarm or silence a phone heading into a meeting. All you need to do is set the task and program the sticker and it’s good to go, though you will want to label the sticker if you’re making the tag public.

TecTiles will only work with Android devices, but it doesn’t have to be Samsung only. Other NFC-enabled Android devices will be able to use TecTiles.

Here’s a list of the Samsung phones that can work with TecTiles:

  • Samsung Galaxy S III on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon
  • Samsung Galaxy S II on T-Mobile
  • Galaxy Nexus  on Verizon, Sprint and GSM Unlocked
  • Nexus S 4G on Sprint
  • Samsung Galaxy S Blaze 4G on T-Mobile
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