Implementing NFC in Android: A Step-by-Step Guide


Near Field Communication (NFC) is a technology that allows devices to communicate with each other by simply touching or bringing them close together. This technology has been widely adopted in modern smartphones, including Android devices. NFC offers a range of possibilities for developers, such as mobile payments, file transfers, and Bluetooth pairing. In this article, we will explore how to implement NFC in Android, step-by-step.

Step 1: Understanding NFC Basics
Before diving into the implementation process, it is important to have a clear understanding of NFC and its technical specifications. NFC works on the principle of electromagnetic induction, where two devices communicate through magnetic fields. One device acts as an initiator or reader, while the other device acts as a target or tag. The reader emits a signal, and the target responds with its information.

NFC operates on a 13.56 MHz frequency and has a range of up to 10 centimeters. It is a highly secure technology, as it requires both devices to be within close proximity for communication to take place. Additionally, NFC tags can be programmed to perform actions when scanned, such as opening a specific app or sending a pre-written message.

Step 2: Setting Up the Environment
To begin implementing NFC in your Android app, you will need to have Android Studio installed on your computer. Android Studio is the official integrated development environment (IDE) for Android app development. It allows you to create, test, and publish your Android apps seamlessly. Once you have Android Studio installed, you can create a new project and select the “Empty Activity” template.

Step 3: Adding NFC Permissions
To use NFC in your app, you must add the necessary permissions in the AndroidManifest.xml file. These permissions will enable your app to detect, read, and write to NFC tags.

Step 4: Adding NFC Adapter
The NFC Adapter is an integral part of the NFC implementation in Android. It enables your app to communicate with the NFC hardware on the device. To add the NFC Adapter in your file, add the following code:

private NfcAdapter mNfcAdapter;

protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

mNfcAdapter = NfcAdapter.getDefaultAdapter(this);

Step 5: Enabling and Disabling NFC
Before your app can communicate with NFC, you must ensure that NFC is enabled on the device. To do this, you can call the enableForegroundDispatch() method within your activity’s onResume() method. This method allows your app to intercept any NFC events while it is in the foreground.

protected void onResume() {

if (mNfcAdapter != null) {
mNfcAdapter.enableForegroundDispatch(this, pendingIntent, null, null);

On the other hand, if NFC is not required within your app, you should disable it in the onPause() method.

protected void onPause() {

if (mNfcAdapter != null) {

Step 6: Detecting NFC Events
Now that you have set up the necessary components, your app is ready to detect and handle NFC events. To do this, you will need to create an IntentFilter that specifies the NFC intent action and category.

IntentFilter tagDetected = new IntentFilter(NfcAdapter.ACTION_TAG_DISCOVERED);

Step 7: Reading Data from NFC Tags
Once the app detects an NFC tag, you can read its data by overriding the onNewIntent() method in your activity:

protected void onNewIntent(Intent intent) {

if (intent.hasExtra(NfcAdapter.EXTRA_TAG)) {
Tag tag = intent.getParcelableExtra(NfcAdapter.EXTRA_TAG);
// read data from tag using Tag object

You can also use the tag’s methods, such as getTechList() and getId(), to retrieve specific information.

Step 8: Writing Data to NFC Tags
Besides reading data from NFC tags, you can also write data to them. To do this, you will need to create an NdefMessage with the data you want to write and call the writeNdefMessage() method.

Tag tag = intent.getParcelableExtra(NfcAdapter.EXTRA_TAG);
NdefMessage ndefMessage = new NdefMessage(NdefRecord.createTextRecord(“en”, “Hello, NFC!”));
Ndef ndef = Ndef.get(tag);

Step 9: Handling Errors
It is essential to handle errors when implementing NFC in your app. This includes scenarios where no NFC hardware is present, or the device does not support NFC. You can do this by checking if the NFC Adapter is null before calling any NFC methods.

if (mNfcAdapter == null) {
// NFC is not supported on this device

In this tutorial, we have seen how to implement NFC in your Android app, step-by-step. We covered the basics of NFC technology, how to set up the development environment, and the necessary steps to enable, detect, read, and write NFC tags. With this knowledge, you can now explore the various possibilities that NFC has to offer and incorporate it into your own Android projects.