Samsung releases TecTiles2, new generation of programmable NFC tiles

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Are you familiar with Samsung TecTiles? If not, let’s take a moment to explain: these are small, programmable tiles that can be programmed via your smartphone to perform any given number of tasks, from making sure your phone’s alarm goes off (in the event that you’re the type to forget each night) to being stuck on the back of your business card, allowing your net networking buddies to easily transfer your contact information onto their own Samsung NFC-enabled device. All you have to do is purchase a batch of TecTiles, program them in four quick steps, and you’re good to go.

Today, Samsung issued a press release announcing the second generation of its TecTiles software, less than a year after the original. This new version is compatible with any NFC-enabled Samsung smartphone, including the brand new S4.

So what can you expect from this new version? Much the same that you could find with the original, with some additional tasks. You can program tiles to change your phone’s settings — the brightness of the screen and the volume, among others. This can be helpful if you have specific modes you want for your phone in various atmospheres. While you may want the ringer on vibrate while at work, you may want it to be on full volume at home. When in the car, you’ll want it paired with your Bluetooth earpiece. Instead of fiddling with the various settings each time, just hover over a tile and you’re good to go. This, for us, is the best use of tiles.

The next best use for these that we found is on the social front. Businesses can program a tile and place it at, say, the hostess stand of a restaurant, or the front desk of a hotel, and guests can just wave their phone over it to check-in, whether on Foursquare or Facebook, or even follow that venue on Twitter. In an extreme case (though we don’t see this happening anytime soon), a restaurant could even place tags on tables to encourage sharing photos of their meals on Foodspotting.

Other options are using them to make phone calls and send texts. You can use them to automatically open websites, populating a certain address on a map, or launching an app. While these actions could speed up the process slightly, it doesn’t necessarily make that much sense to us.

The tiles are available in packs of five for about $15 each. Currently, they’re only available on Samsung.com, but will roll out to other retailers starting next month.

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