QR codes (Quick Response, if you’re curious) are those square barcode-looking things you might have seen that, when scanned by youror , Scan QR Codes; can send you immediately to a relevant webpage or download an app without having to type in a complicated URL.
iPhone has a built-in reader; Android requires a 3rd-party app
They can be great time-savers but they’re not always obvious in how to use them, particularly if you have an older Android phone. Here’s what you need to know.
What to Know
- iPhone (iOS 11 or later): Launch the Camera app, frame the QR code, and tap the notification.
- Android devices: You’ll need to download a third-party app, such as QR Code Reader.
- Scan QR codes only from companies you trust.
How to Scan QR Codes With an iPhone Running iOS 11 or Later
An iPhone with iOS 11 (or later) comes with a built-in QR reader in its camera. To scan a QR code with an iPhone camera, follow these steps:
Launch the Camera app.
Frame the QR code.
Look for the notification banner at the top of the screen.
Tap the notification to trigger the code’s action.
Smartphones with iOS 10 or earlier can scan many types of QR codes using the Wallet app, which stores event tickets, boarding passes, coupons, and loyalty cards. The Wallet app can’t read every QR code, though; only items it recognizes as passes, like the examples above. For a one-stop QR reader, you’ll need a third-party app.
Best iPhone QR Code Reader App
The free Quick Scan – QR Code Reader is a full-featured app that can read QR codes out in the world and from images in your photo roll.
It can also add contacts to your address book, open links, and map locations, and add events to your calendar app. You can save codes for future reference, and the app has unlimited storage. All you have to do is open the app and point to the QR code you’d like to scan. If it leads to a URL, you’ll get a notification that you can tap.
How to Scan a QR Code With an Android Phone
Android doesn’t have a built-in QR code reader, so you’ll need to download a third-party app and follow its instructions. To scan a QR code, you need a smartphone with a camera and, in most cases, that mobile app. Some Android phones might also have this functionality built-in.
In general, the process is:
Launch your camera.
Point it at the QR code.
Press and hold the home button.
Tap to trigger the code’s action.
Best QR Scanner for Android
When you want to scan a QR code, launch the app and point your smartphone at it; you’ll then either see the code’s information or get a prompt to open a URL.
Ways to Use QR Codes
When you scan a QR code, it might open a link to a website or social media account, display a YouTube video, show a coupon, or contact details.
Advertising is probably the most common use of QR codes. Brands can add a QR code to a billboard or magazine, for example, that sends users to its website or a coupon or landing page. For the user, this takes away the hassle of typing in a long URL, or jotting it down on paper. The advertiser benefits from real-time results in which the user immediately visits their website rather than waiting until they get home, or worse, forgetting about it altogether.
Another use is through a virtual store, in which there’s a large touch screen in a public place, such as a subway station or plaza. Shoppers can scan items with their smartphones and get the items delivered at a chosen time and location. Each piece has a unique QR code and works with a mobile app that stores payment and shipping information.
QR codes are often used to transfer cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin. Some cemeteries around the world have started adding QR codes to tombstones to make it easier for visitors to locate the gravesite.
It’s a good practice to only scan QR codes from companies that you trust because of security concerns. A hacker could link a QR code to a malicious website that looks legit but instead phishes your personal information when you try to log in. Also be sure to check the URL before inputting your credentials, something you should already be doing anyway.