NFC update adds peer-to-peer wireless tag transfers

The NFC Forum has released its latest specification for the short-range wireless standard, v.16, throwing device to device data transfer into the mixture. The Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol (SNEP) will allow users of NFC-equipped devices to swap content – such as business card information – simply by holding their phones together. In short, the peer-to-peer system will allow two-way data exchange rather than forcing a reader/writer mode switch.

Another potential use of SNEP, the NFC Forum suggests, would be collecting data from various NFC tags on your smartphone while you're away from home, and then beaming that data to another device – such as a computer or a smart TV – when you're back. That way, you could collect information from NFC-tagged movie posters and then squirt it over to an NFC-enabled HDTV to watch streaming trailers.

"Previously, NDEF was applicable only to NFC tags in reader/writer mode. Now, SNEP enables the use of the openly standardized NDEF in peer-to-peer mode, making seamless interchange of data a reality (see sample use cases below). Application developers no longer need to concern themselves with how their NDEF data gets transferred between NFC-enabled devices. This capability is similar to the way that NFC Forum Tag Type specifications encapsulate the differences between communication layers. By providing this capability, the SNEP specification makes the difference between reader-writer and peer-to-peer operation modes disappear – a major step towards global interoperability of NFC applications" NFC Forum

There's some intelligence in the standard, too, preventing devices from being overwhelmed if their capacity to receive information is less than what the transmitting device wants to send over. SNEP also sets a default "well-known service" for standardized NFC data storage, boosting interoperability even if devices aren't from the same manufacturer.