BlackBerry Tag Unleashes NFC Technology in Your Smartphone


Earlier this week we announced the availability of BlackBerry® OS 7.1 for BlackBerry smartphones – a software update that includes exciting enhancements and app updates, including the introduction of BlackBerry® Tag. I was waiting on the edge of my seat for this announcement, because I have been dying to talk about it with you! I’m a Senior Product Manager at Research In Motion® (RIM®) working on this exciting technology. I think that BlackBerry Tag will make Near Field Communication (NFC) a very real part of BlackBerry users’ daily lives…and it works like magic!

In the summer of 2011 we launched the BlackBerry® 7 lineup of smartphones along with our first NFC-capable devices: the BlackBerry® Bold™ 9900/9930 smartphones, the BlackBerry® Curve™ 9350/9360/9370 smartphones, and the BlackBerry® Bold 9790 smartphone. The initial NFC functionality enabled the technology within the BlackBerry® OS to support Smart Tag reading and writing, along with API’s available for BlackBerry developers so that they could start building some compelling experiences with this exciting technology. For the end-user, on the other hand, the promise of the technology is just getting started.

What is BlackBerry Tag?

BlackBerry® Tag is a new way to share content with others, allowing you to use NFC technology to pass information with a simple tap between any two NFC-enabled BlackBerry® smartphones.

What can be shared through BlackBerry Tag?

Here are some examples of what you’ll be able to share with a single tap:

  • Invite your friend to BBM™ (BBM 6.1, which is now available on BlackBerry® App World™)
  • Share contact information
  • Share content from the media applications
  • Share voice notes
  • Share documents from within Documents To Go®
  • Share a URL from the browser
  • Create Bluetooth® pairing with ease
  • Transfer files

An Example

Picture this: you’re reviewing photos from a weekend with friends on your BlackBerry smartphone, when your friend sees a great shot that they love. By simply opening the picture on your phone and tapping your friend’s device, you can easily share the photo. No complex menus, no extended period of time holding the phones together, and no hassle. Want to share multiple photos with a single tap? No problem! The transfer continues even after the phones are pulled apart after tapping, via a secure Bluetooth connection.


Okay, so how does it work?

The “magic” of BlackBerry Tag is that it’s using NFC to very quickly (and silently) setup a temporary secure Bluetooth connection between the two phones. In case you didn’t know, NFC is a wireless technology that allows for very low-rate data transmissions at a 4 cm range. It fills a very specific niche, but when coupled with a longer range and higher bandwidth protocol like Bluetooth, it becomes an extremely robust technology that lets you connect devices wirelessly for a brief period of time. BlackBerry Tag doesn’t go out to the cloud or use any data over a mobile network.

Is it Secure?

Staying true to our long history of upholding security standards, we made sure that the system is protected from end-to-end. Plus there is a certain level of inherent security with NFC that I’d call security-by-proximity (i.e. you have to physically be close to the person you want to share content with) – but we went even further.

  • By default, confirmation prompts appear when you attempt to send or receive using BlackBerry Tag. If you prefer, you can easily disable prompts within the preferences.
  • Tapping to share is disabled when screens are off, preventing unwanted tagging from pockets or lost/stolen devices.
  • AES-256 encryption is utilized over Bluetooth to make the sharing of data secure.

In BlackBerry 7.1, not only do some core applications support BlackBerry Tag, we will also offer additional API’s that will provide developers with the functionality to create highly interactive applications, allowing you to establish peer-to-peer connections between devices. Through the use of standard protocols, developers will have the ability to create a physical, interactive experience, allowing users to transfer files, or share in-app information with a simple tap. Developers can utilize BlackBerry Tag to transfer data through NFC or to handover the connection to Bluetooth to transfer larger amounts of data over a further distance.

Hopefully you are getting as excited as I am about BlackBerry Tag and the limitless experiences it can enable on BlackBerry smartphones!

What will you be sharing most often with BlackBerry Tag? Share in the comments!

About Annu D.

Handheld Product Manager Annu joined Research In Motion (RIM) in 2002 and is now part of the Handheld Product Management team. All of his time goes into defining requirements for future hardware. Annu works closely with customers, carriers and internal teams to make the BlackBerry device the best it can be!

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