Mobile Development

Looking for something more specific?
Enter keywords into the search bar
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
nfc enabled devices and a person

What Are NFC Tags? A Beginner's Guide

Maja Nowak
Maja Nowak
April 12, 2023

Learn what NFC tags are and how they are used beyond contactless payments.

Read more

The popularity of smart devices has skyrocketed in recent years. And the more powerful smart devices become, the more we can use them to interact with our environment. A seamless user experience for connected living needs efficient solutions to transmit data and trigger events — near-field communication (NFC) is one of the elements that enables devices to connect with each other to exchange data.

What Are NFC Tags?

Near-field communication technology allows two devices to communicate wirelessly. The technology can be embedded in a small tag to facilitate data transfer between nearby mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and other electronics. NFC tags are often compared to RFID, but the two are different.

What is RIFD?

The RIFD technology (radio-frequency identification) is the predecessor of NFC. RFID tags are most commonly known from anti-theft systems attached to the more expensive products in stores. RIFD has been successfuly used to track inventory in a variety of sectors and industries, e.g., manufacturing, healthcare, automotive, or apparel — wherever there's a need to track items.

What is NFC?

NFC is part RFID (radio-frequency identification) and part Bluetooth. Unlike RFID, NFC tags work in close proximity, giving users more precision. NFC also doesn’t require manual device discovery and synchronization as Bluetooth Low Energy does. The biggest difference between RFID and NFC is the communication method.

RFID tags have only a one-way communication method, meaning an RFID-enabled item sends a signal to an RFID reader.

NFC devices have a one- and two-way communication capability, which gives the NFC technology an upper hand in use cases where transactions are dependent on data from two devices (e.g., card payments). Mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and other contactless payment solutions are all powered by the NFC technology.

So in essence, RFID tags are great for inventory tracking and NFC tags work well for enhanced communication.

a diagram showing differences between rifd and nfc
NFC tags are embedded as a smart chip in a physical device. Source: CXJ RFID Factory

How NFC Tags Became Popular?

NFC has been on the technology scene for years — Nokia launched the first NFC-enabled phone in 2006. But this technology only gained momentum in recent years.

market size and popularity of nfc-enabled devices
Growth of NFC as a technology — 2018-2024. Source: BlueBite

NFC popularity soared when companies recognized NFC as a enabler of a contactless future.

Contactless payments registered a 150% increase between March 2019 and June 2020 in the US alone, partially caused by the pandemic. Contactless tech, originally designed to handle small purchases, is now one of the most popular mobile payment methods.

Today, there are more than 2 billion NFC-enabled devices and 20% of the world’s population has access to NFC.

But what is an NFC tag? How does NFC work? What are the advantages of using NFC? Are NFC payments secure? How are businesses using NFC technology?

Let’s look at all these questions and explore some common applications for NFC tech.

people sitting on a couch in a room activated by NFC tags

Beyond Payments: Example Uses for NFC Tags

Maja Nowak
Maja Nowak
April 4, 2023

Explore how NFC is changing industries. See exciting uses for NFC tags.

Read more

Contactless payments are the gold standard for Near Field Communication (NFC) tags in 2023. A great majority of mobile phone users have made contactless payments in recent years. The use of NFCs for payments is likely to grow as we move toward cashless societies. But there is much more to NFC tags than payments.

Let’s look at how NFC is changing industries by exploring uses for NFC tags.

How Are Industries Adopting NFC in 2023? 

NFC technology has been around for more than a decade, steadily growing in adoption.

NFC solved a major pain point — providing secure contactless payment systems for mobile payment processing. As less digitalized businesses saw the contactless potential, they started looking for new ways to use NFC in their everyday affairs.

NFC is useful even for businesses operating in conventional industries. 

NFC in retail 

The retail sector has been using NFC for contactless mobile payments. But NFC in retail has moved beyond just a payment method. 

Retailers are using NFC tags for sharing product information, offering discounts, in-store marketing campaigns, etc. 

NFC in healthcare 

NFC-based SOS features are now standard on many smartphones. One can scan a smartphone to know the medical history, raise an SOS alarm for a person involved in an accident or in case of an emergency.

Also, NFC tags on sealed medical packages help doctors and caregivers check dosage info and prescriptions using their smartphones. 

NFC in banking and finance

Banks and financial institutions are using NFC beyond payments. Apple Pay, Google Pay, Android Pay, and other NFC-enabled mobile wallets are just the tip of an iceberg in the banking sector.

NFC tags are easily recyclable, reducing the use of non-degradable plastic cards. Many financial institutions are also using NFC tags as keys to lockers and deposit boxes for customers.

NFC in travel

NFC tags can be used to check in at specific locations. To support the customer experience various venues, NFCs are used to embed links to menus or other important information, especially in places and contexts where QR won't work. Imagine visiting a restaurant, tapping your phone on an NFC tag at the entrance, and instantly accessing the menu on your phone without having to touch a physical menu. This technology can be particularly useful for travelers.

NFC in sport activities and events

Because of their utility and NFC tags, work well in sports like orienteering, where athletes can use their smartphones instead of often very expensive equipment and tracking systems to access information about their location, to confirm their presence at control points, or to time their effort. Such use of NFC tags in sport events can be especially useful in places where GPS doesn't work, like in a dense forest.

NFC-assisted escape rooms

NFC technology is effective at activating automation in sequences in escape rooms. For example, an NFC tag can be placed in a certain location, and when the player taps their phone on it, it triggers a mechanism that opens a door or reveals a clue.

NFC for employee control systems

Instead of relying on manual log entries, NFC tags can be used to track the movements of employees such as cleaners or security personnel. The system records when the employee was present in a specific location at a specific time, making it easier to account for employee performance and movement.

Best NFC Use Cases and App Examples 

NFC has been integrated in several mobile apps, especially during COVID-19. Here are some of the best uses of NFC tags in mobile apps: 

NFC-based travel and transportation apps

NFC has reinvented the archaic practices that have been in place for the better part of the last century. The travel, tourism, and transportation industries are rapidly rolling out NFC-based apps and contactless ticketing solutions.

Airlines and airport authorities are experimenting with NFC boarding passes, and public transport systems have shifted to NFC-powered ticketing apps.

Commuters are no longer required to buy a paper ticket to access bus, metro, tram, or other public transport systems. They can use NFC tags embedded in smart cards or smartphones for contactless payments across public transport systems

NFC-powered public transportation systems are operating in several major cities — New Delhi (India), Nice (France), Beijing (China), Seoul (Korea), etc.

Restaurants, bars, and popular tourist spots are also using NFC stickers and tags for information exchange. Hotels are using NFC-based smart locks for keyless entry to rooms. Tourists and customers can use an NFC-powered mobile app to get more info, read reviews, find the best deals, get entry to an area/room, and post reviews. 

NFC-based events and entertainment apps

NFC apps allow venue owners, organizers, and artists to comply with local social distancing mandates, sell tickets, promote contactless payments, and ensure minimal contact. 

NFC simplifies ticket delivery and venue access for locations like theaters and concert halls. People use NFC-enabled devices and smartphones to validate their entry — at sporting events, theme parks, concerts, conferences, or a live show.  

SafeTix by Ticketmaster uses NFC technology to enable people to use their mobile phones as entry tickets. The company is digitizing tickets for big-league sporting events like NFL, concerts for stars like Ed Sheeran, among other events. 

NFC-powered Event Ticket by TicketMaster. Source: SafeTix

NFC-based security and access control apps

NFC tags can streamline access control and security protocols. Companies are using NFC to upgrade their old access management systems. NFC tags can be embedded into mobile phones, wearables, wrist bands, and key chains to identify team members, visitors, and workers within office campuses.

HR teams can use NFC-enabled apps to track work hours and team attendance without being intrusive.

An NFC-based access control system like AEOS by Nedap brings systems, electronic devices, smartphones, and people on the same network. Modern offices can use this solution to facilitate and track movement, provide access to conference rooms, cubicles, or floors.

NFC-based automation apps

NFC tags can automate homes, offices, buildings, and even vehicles with IoT networks. NFC apps can be used to configure device operations, share WiFi passwords securely, and control a computer system remotely.

Businesses can use a blank smart tag and download an NFC app like NFC Tools from Google Play Store or App Store to create gestures. You can easily program NFC tags using the app. Apple AirTags also work like programmable NFC tags. Here’s what all you can automate when you program NFC tags:

  • Activate/deactivate a process/system
  • Streamline autonomous manufacturing operations 
  • Launch an app or open a website URL 
  • Shar sensitive information like social media credentials securely 
  • Open doors and access areas within a building 
  • Send emergency messages (SOS) or call a number 
  • Configure a wireless Internet connection and share WiFi password

NFC tags can also power smart locks and work as a keyless solution to access apartments, cars, and hotel rooms. Many hotels are now using NFC-enabled smart locks as an alternative to plastic keycards. Guests use their own smartphones instead of plastic keycards to unlock hotel rooms. This helps hotels follow safety and hygiene protocols. Plus, hotels ditching plastic keycards for NFC can reduce plastic waste.

NFC enables keyless entry and powers IoT-based automation systems. Source: NewAtlas 

NFC-based wellness and fitness apps 

Wearable tech is heavily dependent on NFC tags for fitness-related information exchange. Fitness apps collect data from wearables and track sleep patterns, calories burnt, heart rate, and other metrics in real-time.

All major fitness bands use NFC as an underlying tech to improve user experience and become a part of daily life.

MI Band NFC with gesture-based workout schedule feature. Source: Android Police

MI Band 4 by Xiaomi supports contactless mobile payments and configurable gestures to create a workout schedule, play music, set an alarm, etc.

NFC has other use cases for fitness and healthcare apps, too. Caregivers can monitor patients’ vitals and ensure a safe delivery of genuine drugs. Prescriptions can also be stored in NFC tags.

Many pharmaceutical companies and institutes have started using NFC-powered smart drug labels that store a medicine’s expiry date, dosage information, authenticity information, etc.

Tapp is a smart medicine strip that stores prescription data, medicine information, and dosage schedule. Caregivers and family members can use the Tapp app to set reminders so that no patient misses medication.

NFC-powered strip that reminds patients to take their medication. Source: Yanko Design

a screenshot of a 3D man working with FlutterFlow

FlutterFlow — Can You Use It in Production?

Darren K.
Darren K.
March 15, 2023

Learn how FlutterFlow UI builder can be the future of app development in the context of early product validation and gathering user feedback.

Read more

App development has seen a significant shift over the years. Thanks to the rise of cross-platform development frameworks, developers can now create apps for multiple platforms using a single codebase. FlutterFlow UI builder is one of the newest additions to this list of frameworks. Let’s explore what FlutterFlow is, its features, and why it could be the future of app development in the context of early product validation and gathering user feedback.

Memory Lane — How FlutterFlow Came to Be

But first, let's take a trip down memory lane. A few years ago, some Google engineers created a cross-platform app development tool called Flutter that let developers make and run mobile apps for both iOS and Android. The Flutter framework was a big hit because it made the development process faster and more efficient.

Fast forward to today when two former Google engineers decided to venture on their own to create FlutterFlow, which takes the power of Flutter and adds a drag-and-drop interface to make app development even easier. You don't need to be a coding wizard to use FlutterFlow.

Under the Hood — Key Features

Programming language

FlutterFlow uses Dart just like Flutter, but in FlutterFlow the code is organized in such a manner that you don’t need to be a skilled developer to create digital products. Which brings us to the next feature.

Drag and drop

One of the most notable features of FlutterFlow is that it’s a drag-and-drop app builder. The platform has a wide range of templates, pre-built widgets, and integrations to choose from, so you can create a functional and polished app or web application without writing any code.

Boilerplate functions

Boilerplate code are pre-written code snippets that perform common tasks and can be reused across different components of an app. They are the parts of app code that have to be included for the product to work but the code itself doesn’t do any complex jobs. In FlutterFlow, boilerplate code saves time and effort by providing the necessary functionality that can be easily integrated into an app. Boilerplate functions can be accessed and added to an app through the FlutterFlow visual editor.

Source code and APIs

While it is not necessary to have programming knowledge to use FlutterFlow, the platform allows users to access the source code to further customize their apps beyond the visual editor's capabilities. This feature gives more advanced users the flexibility to modify the generated code, add new functionality, and extend their apps' capabilities. There’s API support using the "External API" widget where you can add third-party services like payment gateways or social media platforms.

UI templates and Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM)

FlutterFlow also offers pre-built UI templates, such as buttons, forms, and layouts, which further speed up the development process. Push notifications go through Firebase Cloud Messaging. Real-time feedback is where you can see changes made to an application in real-time as they are being made. This means that as a user makes changes to their app, they can see those changes reflected immediately, without having to reload or rebuild the app. By integrating Firebase with your FlutterFlow project, you can use Firebase services to build powerful and scalable mobile and web applications without writing much code.

push notifications built in FlutterFlow
FlutterFlow supports push notifications. Source: FlutterFlow
flutter and react native logos in hands

Flutter vs. React Native in 2023 — Detailed Analysis

Maja Nowak
Maja Nowak
February 21, 2023

Flutter and React Native are two leading tools for cross-platform mobile development. Learn about their differences and the best use cases for each.

Read more

Flutter and React Native are two leading tools for cross platform app development. Learn about their differences and the best use cases for each.

What Is Flutter?

Flutter is a user interface (UI) software development kit released by Google in 2018. Flutter lets you build cross-platform applications for a number of platforms and operating systems.

Will Flutter Overtake React Native? [UPDATED]

As of May 2021, Flutter was getting closer to overtaking React Native in terms of popularity and usage. But let’s look at the stats.

stack overflow survey results 2019
Flutter is almost on par with React Native in the "Most Popular Technology - Other Frameworks" category in the Stack Overflow Survey 2021.

Interestingly, in 2019, Flutter was almost at the bottom of the popularity contest. So the technology is catching up quite nimbly.

Flutter was near the bottom of the popularity list according to developers participating in the Stack Overflow Survey 2019. Source: Stack Overflow Survey 2019

UPDATE, February 2023:

The results of the annual Stack Overflow Survey 2022 are in, and here's a fresh look at the Flutter vs. React Native debate among developers using these technologies in commercial projects and beyond.

In the latest Stack Overflow survey Flutter received slightly more recognition than React Native in the most popular technology category. Source: Stack Overflow

And a look at Google Trends results reveals a fierce battle between the two is still on.

After gaining on React Native for over two years, in April 2020, Flutter became a more frequently searched query globally and continues to be so in 2023 worldwide.

a graph of worldwide Flutter (red) and React Native (blue) popularity trend (2018–2023).
Worldwide Flutter (red) and React Native (blue) popularity trend (2018–2023). Source: Google Trends

And yet, in the US, the battle still goes on and is as fierce as ever, with axes and gunpowder spoiling the air galore, especially when you look at the trend curve starting from January 2021. However, Flutter currently has a slight lead over React Native.

a graph with Flutter (red) and React Native (blue) popularity trend in the US (2018–2023).
United States Flutter (red) and React Native (blue) popularity trend (2018–2023). Source: Google Trends

Statista seemed to confirm the global trend in the Flutter vs. React Native battle in 2020. In the survey made with almost 20,000 respondents, Flutter was going head to head with React Native.

statista results for most popular cross-platfrom development tools
Cross-platform mobile frameworks used by developers worldwide in 2019 and 2020. Source: Statista

UPDATE, July 2021:

The latest research from Statista places Flutter as the leading cross-platform mobile development framework in 2021. Flutter surpasses React Native by 4% (42% for Flutter against 38% for React Native). Still, it's fair to say the two technologies are almost equally popular.

2021 Statista popularity graph for cross-platform mobile development frameworks
Popularity of cross-platform mobile frameworks among developers worldwide from 2019 to 2021. Source: Statista

However, other sources paint a slightly different picture of the overall popularity of Flutter or React Native. Below is a representation of the percent of free mobile apps and games that use a specific engine. Of course, when we take games into account, it's no wonder Flutter and React Native placed lower as they are not exactly the most optimal engines for building games.

a chart with technology engines powering mobile apps and gamesa
Most used engines by mobile app and games developers worldwide (July 2022). Source: Statista

What makes these two technologies so popular? Let's see.

a 3d rendering of a front store marketplace

No-Code Marketplace — Building a Marketplace without Code

Maja Nowak
Maja Nowak
January 19, 2023

Discover how a no-code platform can facilitate the development of a marketplace business.

Read more

No-code tools speed up the development of digital products to a point where you can have a fully operational marketplace app in a matter of days. And while no-code lowers the barrier to entry for non-technical founders to launch their products, the approach comes with a set of pros and cons that have to be factored in early on — in-depth analysis at the start will help you decide how exactly a no-code platform should facilitate the development of a marketplace business.

Benefits of Building an Online Mobile App Marketplace Using No-Code Tools

While the biggest benefit of using no-code to build your shopping platform is simply quickly turning your marketplace idea into a workable product, there are several other benefits to building online marketplace apps using no-code tools:

Reduced development costs

No-code tools can significantly reduce the costs associated with building and launching a marketplace. They decrease the need for custom development, allowing you to build and launch your marketplace at a fraction of the cost.

Faster time-to-market

A marketplace website builder for no-code development allows you to build and launch your marketplace much faster than traditional coding methods. This can be particularly beneficial if you have a short-term focus or need to get your product to market quickly.

a screen of a mobile app built using no-code blocks
By using blocks, you can build the application faster.

Low learning curve

No-code builders have a low learning curve, making them accessible to non-technical founders and individuals. This can be particularly appealing for those who are new to building digital products or have limited technical skills.

User-friendly workflow

No-code development platforms are designed to be user-friendly, with a range of templates, custom elements, and integrations to help you build a functional and professional marketplace.

Drawbacks When Building a Product Using a No-Code Platform

While the no-code approach to online marketplaces offers many benefits, there are also a few drawbacks to consider. Knowing the limitations of no-code marketplace software builders should be a big chunk of your decision whether to build with little code or opt for custom development.

Scalability limitations

While no-code tools can be a great option for building an MVP or small-scale marketplace, they may not be as scalable as traditional coding methods. This can be a problem if you have ambitious growth plans or need to build a highly complex and customized marketplace. Consider a scenario where your audience matures to a point where they are loyal to your application but to keep them appropriately engaged, you have to develop new marketplace features or introduce new integrations that the no-code builder doesn’t yet offer.

Vendor lock-in

One potential drawback is vendor lock-in. When you build a product using a no-code platform, you are reliant on that platform for updates, maintenance, and support. This can be problematic if the platform decides to change its pricing model, discontinue support for your product, or experience technical issues.

Customization constraints

While no-code tools do offer some level of customization, they may not offer the same level of flexibility and control as traditional coding methods. This can be a problem if you have specific business requirements or need to create a completely customized marketplace.

woman doing online shopping on a smartphone

Different Types of Online Marketplaces

Maja Nowak
Maja Nowak
January 4, 2023

Read about the different types of marketplaces to find opportunities in the mcommerce industry.

Read more

Knowing the different types of online marketplaces can help you determine how to sell your products and services to find opportunities for innovation. By choosing the right marketplace type, companies can grow business models and discover opportunities.

Types of Mobile Marketplace Apps 

There are millions of marketplace apps out there. From the biggest ones like Amazon to small niche apps that sell customized jewelry or courses, mobile marketplace can be divided into the following categories:

Marketplace app types based on target audience 

B2B marketplace apps

A B2B marketplace app targets business buyers who want to buy from other businesses. A B2B marketplace lists mostly wholesale suppliers and vendors who want to sell their services or products to other business owners, entrepreneurs, and resellers. 

overview of Alibaba mobile app marketplace
Alibaba B2B marketplace has everything for business buyers. Source: AppAdvice

Alibaba is the most successful B2B platform that allows brands to connect with wholesalers in China. Buyers can quickly find the best manufacturers, discuss their requirements, and enjoy order protection while dealing with overseas suppliers.

B2C marketplace apps 

A B2C marketplace connects businesses directly to end customers. A business lists a product or service on a marketplace app (that charges a commission on every successful sale) where buyers discover the product/service and buy directly. 

B2C marketplace apps offer a huge variety to customers making them wildly popular all over the globe. 

Amazon is currently the world’s biggest marketplace with millions of products listed by all kinds of businesses. There are B2C marketplaces other than ecommerce platforms, too. 

teachable a marketplace for courses and coaching
Teachable targets coaches and teachers who want to create and sell digital products. Source: Teachable

Teachable is a great example of a B2C marketplace that sells digital products. Teachable allows teachers, coaches, and gurus to create, promote, and sell their information products like eBooks, courses, etc.

P2P marketplace apps 

A peer-to-peer (P2P) marketplace app connects two individuals who want to enter a contract of exchange. For example, a listing platform that allows one user to upload a listing for his old car and another user to connect with the seller directly to buy the car. 

P2P networks and marketplace apps allow a user to become a seller or a buyer at different times according to the need. 

Airbnb, Etsy, Uber, Quikr, and OLX are all types of P2P marketplaces where people list their products, services, or properties for others to buy or rent. 

Upwork powers the skill-based sharing economy via a P2P marketplace. Source. Play Store 

Upwork is a great example of a successful P2P platform where buyers (businesses) and sellers (freelancers) find each other, complete projects, and pay securely.

Marketplace app types based on focus

General or horizontal marketplace apps

A horizontal marketplace app offers products across multiple product or service categories. Think of it as an online shopping mall where you can buy different products under a single roof. A horizontal marketplace app has the following characteristics: 

  • Large group of customers coming from different socio-economic groups and having diverse needs 
  • Wide range of products across multiple categories and industries 
  • Sellers come from different industries and segments to promote their business on the same platform 
  • Cross-selling, upselling, and personalized recommendations can help increase the average order value

Amazon, Flipkart, and eBay are examples of a horizontal marketplace. Customers with different needs browse these platforms to find products that meet their needs.

Niche marketplace apps or vertical marketplaces 

Niche marketplaces are more evolved in terms of users. These marketplaces offer specialized goods or services only in a specific segment or industry. 

Vertical marketplaces work really well in the B2B space by simplifying procurement and operations.

Marble is a B2B vertical marketplace in the grocery space that digitizes grocery procurement for retail stores. Chemnet is a vertical marketplace for businesses in the chemical industry. 

With evolving needs of modern consumers, vertical marketplaces have also conquered the B2C segment. 

specialized B2C marketplaces
The vertical B2C marketplace ecosystem. Source: Applico

Marketplace apps based on supervision

Unmanaged marketplaces

Unmanaged marketplaces are mostly P2P marketplaces where buyers and sellers discover each other.

The marketplace owner often doesn’t provide quality assurance or background checks. Buyers are expected to do due diligence on their own.

Buyers and sellers interact directly on unregulated marketplaces.
Buyers and sellers interact directly on unregulated marketplaces.

Reviews and ratings affect purchase decisions on such platforms. These marketplaces usually charge very little commission or work or freemium model.

Classified listing portals like OLX, Quikr, and eBay are the best examples of unmanaged marketplaces. Anyone can upload their listing to get discovered by the buyer and move ahead with a sale.

Partially managed marketplaces

Service delivery startups or aggregator platforms like Uber, Zomato, GrubHub can be considered as a partially-managed marketplace.

These marketplaces invest time, money, and effort in developing an onboarding process for sellers.

Partially-regulated marketplaces vet users and provide support at all steps.

Marketplace-guided onboarding assures buyers that purchases are supervised to some degree. For example, when you book a ride via Uber, you expect the driver to be well-behaved and trained. Or when you book a stay via Booking, you don’t have to worry about the cleanliness of the room.

These marketplaces give buyers the best of both worlds — a large variety of independent choices, plus customer support to address any complaints or suggestions. 

Fully managed marketplaces

A fully managed marketplace assists both buyers and sellers throughout the entire sales process. Such marketplaces operate in specialty industries where quality matters most.

A managed marketplace acts as an intermediary in a transaction, conducts background checks, and ensures minimal chances of fraud.

Managed marketplaces act as intermediaries between buyers and sellers.

Notch, previously known as ChefHero, is a fully-managed marketplace for the restaurant industry. Notch acts as an aggregator for restaurant owners that assures them of high-quality restaurant supplies by onboarding select vendors and distributors in Canada and the USA.