Samsung TecTiles 2 Review: Automate Common Smartphone Functions

by Reads (5,939)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Design
      • 7
      • Features
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Utility
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 7.25
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Simple to set up
    • Wide range of features
    • Work as advertised
  • Cons

    • Only work with NFC-enabled Android smartphones
    • Price

Quick Take

Samsung TecTiles 2 are a simple way for users to automate smartphone functions, but could use some versatility to increase usability.

The Samsung TecTile 2 NFC programmable stickers allow users to automate everyday smartphone functions to further limit the amount of button-pushing that needs to be done to complete tasks like setting an alarm or checking in on Foursquare.

Samsung announced the second installment of the stickers, aptly named TecTiles 2. When used in tandem with the Samsung TecTile application, the Near Field Communication (NFC) support allows a user to set the stickers to automate basic smartphone tasks with a quick tap. TechnologyGuide spent some time with the new programmable stickers and found they are intuitive to set-up, fun to use, but still lack in certain areas.

Set Up

Samsung Tec Tiles LogoThe TecTiles 2 stickers, which are about the size of a postage stamp and display the TecTile logo, are extremely easy to set up. First, users must download the free Samsung TecTile application from Google Play. Once the app is installed, users follow the onscreen instructions to quickly learn how to program the stickers. The application allows users to choose from pre-installed tasks, including “Home Mode,” “Car Mode” and “Office Mode,” which have pre-determined functions loaded, such as turning the phone to silent in Work Mode and launching the  music app in Car Mode. Users can also create their own tasks to program the stickers how they see fit.

Tasks are easily created by clicking “New Task” and then sorting through the easy-to-navigate menus to select the appropriate functions. Once a task has been created, users can write it to the sticker simple by clicking on “Write to tag,” and holding the device over the sticker within a centimeter or so. A message will pop up on screen confirming the sticker has been programmed. That’s it. The process is simple, intuitive and easy to get the hang of.

Functions

Users are able to set the TecTiles to automate a range of smartphone functions, which are separated into four categories. Within the “Settings” category, users are able to automate:

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings
  • Sound settings, including silent mode, volume, ringtone and notifications
  • Display modes including brightness and screen timeout

The “Phone” category allows users to automatically:

  • Make a call
  • Send a text message
  • Share a contact or memo
  • Display locations
  • Open a web page
  • Set an alarm or timer
  • Play music or a video
  • View images

The “SNS” section takes care of a user’s social needs, with the ability to:

  • Start a Google talk conversation
  • Check-in on Foursquare or Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  •  Post a Facebook status update
  • Send a Tweet or follow a Twitter user
  • Post to Google+

Finally, the “Applications” section allows users to automate a sticker to open any app installed on the device.

When it comes to the social integration, users must already be signed into the specific social network and have set permission to allow posts from TecTiles. The process needs to be done only once, assuming users don’t frequently sign out, but it’s still a bit of a hassle the first time around. When automating a Facebook, Twitter or Google+ post, users can set the tiles to either post a pre-written statement or set it to open up to the network and allow the user to then enter specific text and post manually.

TechnologyGuide tested features in all four categories and found the TecTiles to work as advertised. Applications opened up seamlessly and the device quickly completed any task it was programmed to with no lags or delays.

Usability

Samsung TecTile App ScreenshotThe TecTiles are pretty cool to play around with, but there could be some real usability for the stickers for both personal consumer use and business use. Let’s take Car Mode for example. Drivers could place a sticker on their dash and program it to open Google Maps with just a swipe of the device, instead of having to take their eyes of the road and fumble with their device. Same goes for launching the music app or connecting to the car’s Bluetooth.

A sticker could be placed bedside and programmed to set a morning alarm, lower the dimness on the device and set the smartphone to silent mode. When users get to their desks in the morning, they could swipe their smartphone over a sticker next to their computer that puts the ringer on vibrate, checks them in on Foursquare and turns the Wi-Fi on.

Additionally, each sticker can be reprogrammed an infinite amount of times. By simply clicking “Reset tag” and holding the device over the sticker, that particular TecTile is wiped clean and ready to be re-programmed. Users can also lock the TecTiles so they can’t be reprogrammed.

When it comes to business use, the TecTile system could also come in handy. A TecTile could be programmed with key contacts so a new employee would just have to hold their device over the sticker to get all the necessary contact information for their office and co-workers. Libraries could have a sticker at the entrance that automatically silences devices. Movie theatres could have stickers set up to launch the Fandango application, while also silencing devices and dimming screens.

However, the TecTiles have limits – most notably that they are only compatible with Android NFC-enabled devices.  BlackBerry 10 and Windows Phone 8 also support NFC and its rumored support could be coming to the next iPhone. NFC-enabled stickers that work cross platform would allow businesses to better take advantage of the product.

The Samsung TecTiles 2 stickers are available at Samsung.com and will be coming to major retailers in June. A pack of five stickers is priced at $14.99 at the time of this review, and the Samsung TecTile Mobile app is available as a free download in Google Play for devices running Android 2.3.3 or later.



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