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Samsung TecTiles aim to reinvent the QR code, make NFC relevant

Check our out full written review of the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Quick Response (QR) codes are somewhat of a dying technology. While the idea is interesting in theory, QR codes haven’t really caught on because it looks too complicated and no one really wants to pop out their phones to scan a random code without context.

Still, Samsung isn’t giving up on the concept by attempting to improve on the idea with its own flagship technology. Known as the Samsung TecTiles, the scannable sticker codes can be read and programmed through your smartphone or computer using NFC capabilities. All the user has to do is tap the phone over the square sticker and the phone will read the shortcut to the command that was manually assigned. This new technology will be pre-installed in the Samsung Galaxy S3 on all four carriers; other phones that will enjoy TecTiles include the Galaxy S2, Galaxy Nexus, Nexus S, and Galaxy S Blaze — all of which can download the TecTile app straight from Google Play for free.

Because TecTiles can be read in an instant, Samsung hopes users will be able to make better use out of their NFC-enable smartphones and come to use TecTiles as primary shortcuts to everyday life, including “sending a ‘headed/at home’ text message, silencing the phone when entering a meeting, setting an alarm, and dimming the display when going to bed.”

When programming your TecTile, you can choose from four link categories: location-based (Foursquare check-ins, Google Maps locations), social (Facebook Like, Facebook status post, Twitter profile), settings and apps (join Wi-Fi, turn phone on vibrate), and communication (send text, make a call). Users have the option to make the chips rewritable, or lock it so the chip information cannot be changed. Afterward, the sticker can be pasted onto any surface such as a business card, or a store front window. Marketers can also leave them in unsuspecting places so Samsung phone owners can appease their curiosity.

We had the opportunity to test out TecTiles and so far, it works rather well. Without having to open an app like you would with QR codes, the phone reads TecTile chips in seconds and sends you straight to the programmed command without much lag time. Still, with only select Samsung Androids as the primary devices that will be able to read TecTile chips (to date, anyway), just how effective will the technology be? Samsung representatives say all future Samsung devices going forward will contain the NFC capabilities to read TecTiles, though this still alienates iPhone users and those with older Android models. Is the purpose of the technology to be the new standard for QR codes, or just another Samsung exclusive to make sharing more seamless? We should find out its effectiveness in the pretty soon, especially if Samsung releases an iOS TecTile app to make the technology more common.

You can buy the TecTile chips in packs of five for $15 at your local AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile retailers. To learn more about the Samsung TecTiles, visit the official site.

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