Struggling With Track & Trace QR Codes?

QR codes are increasingly being used as a quick way to allow people to sign into venues, bars and restaurants, in an effort to allow easier tracking and tracing in the event of a Covid-19 outbreak. If you have never seen one before, they can seem a bit confusing, and trying to understand something new while standing in the doorway of a restaurant isn't ideal.

What Are QR Codes?

Quick Response, or QR, codes have been around since the mid 90’s. They are really just a type of barcode, and once promised big things including changing how we all interact with web links and sharing contact details. Despite these big promises, they never really materialised at the time, mainly due to the technology needed to read them not being very intuitive to use. You needed a QR reader app on your phone, which usually required you to line up the QR code in a small on-screen box, hope the code was read correctly, and wait for the browser to open. It was all a bit fiddly, and no quicker than typing in a short URL.

QR codes continued to hang around in the background of life, appearing occasionally on product packaging, TV adverts or shows, but never really making a major dent on how we all access websites. In recent years their use has increased as smartphone cameras and software has improved, with most modern phones allowing codes to be read with the device camera app.

Reading QR Codes on iPhone

In iOS 12 and later, scanning a code couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is open your Camera app and point the camera at the QR code. Your iOS device automatically detects and scans it right away. You then get a notification telling you what the code does. Tap it to activate the code. If it’s a website, you’re taken there in Safari, for example; or if it’s a payment code, that payment is made.

If you are still using an older version of iOS on your device, you might still need to install a QR Reader app on your device. There are many to choose from, but one of the easiest to use, and one which offers additional tools like a document scanner, is QR Reader for iPhone.

To read a QR code, simply open the app, and use the in-app viewfinder to read the code. You will then be prompted to open the link, etc.

Reading QR Codes on Android

Android has allowed QR codes to be read from within the camera app for some time now. Open the camera on your phone, point it at the code and a pop up will appear on screen when the code is recognised. The pop up will direct you to tap to go to a website, or view contact details in a note, etc.

As with iOS, if you are using an older Android device with an old version of the Android OS, you might need a QR reader app installed. One of the most popular is QR Code Reader by BACHA Soft. Open the app, line the QR code up with the on-screen box and it will be read. QR Code Reader allows you to view a history of the codes you have read, and also lets you read normal barcodes and even create your own QR codes.

Create Your Own QR Code

There are many sites which allow you to generate your own QR codes. The Bing search engine even includes a code generator at the top of the results when you search for “QR Codes”.

With this on screen, type whatever you want in the box (a URL, contact details, or even just your name) and watch as the QR code beside it changes in real time. When you have finished adding text, you can try scanning the code by pointing your camera/reader app at the code on screen.

Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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