NFC is a technology that, despite its many creative uses, has been taking quite a long time to actually catch on. More and more devices are now coming with the technology, like the Samsung Galaxy S III, HTC One X, and the last two Nexus devices, but businesses still need to put NFC tags up for certain uses, and users need to get more used to scanning tags and using tags on their own to automate their device. Of course, another small annoyance that may have been keeping people from using NFC tags is really a fairly simple one. With a stock Samsung Galaxy Nexus for example, you actually have to have the smartphone’s screen on and unlocked, often with an application running, in order to scan a NFC tag. Turning on the device’s screen is a small annoyance, but an extra step that somewhat ruins the ideal use of NFC, where you simply whip your phone out and wave it across a tag to read it.
Fortunately, as usual, there is a developer working to fix this: Geniusdog254 has come up with a simple modification that allows the Galaxy Nexus and some other devices to scan NFC tags with the display off. The mod is actually a very lightly modded version of the Android nfc.apk, which causes the service to run at boot and continue running in the background with the display off. Although the modification is simple, it does require root because it must be flashed through a recovery like ClockworkMod.
Because the tweak is so simple, it shouldn’t cause any major problems with your installation of Android, and I for one haven’t noticed any difference with the mod installed versus stock NFC. The one concern that I do have is battery life, because a service that is always running looking for tags to scan seems like it would drain quite a bit of battery, but I haven’t had the mod installed long enough to tell. Still, I’m sure that even if battery drain turns out to be an issue, it can probably be reduced. Anyways, for some heavy NFC users, the decreased battery life might be worth the trade-off. I’m not a heavy NFC user yet, partially because of how annoying it is to actually scan tags, but with this mod I can see NFC becoming a lot more useful in the near future.
Currently, the mod is available for the Galaxy Nexus and Galaxy S III through the source link below, but the mod should work on any CyanogenMod 9 device with NFC connectivity.[xda-developers]