What Are QR Codes & How Can You Use Them?

If you’ve seen these weird black & white square patterns before and don’t know what they are, you’re not alone, but you should read on to see how they can make your life easier.

These are just fancy barcodes that can be scanned by the camera on your mobile phone.  You know how you scan a barcode on an item at the supermarket and it displays the price of the item?  Same idea here, except when you scan these fancy barcodes with your phone, it can feed your phone all sorts of information.

Example 1.   When a QR code is scanned by your phone, it will automatically open a website in your phone’s web browser.

-This can be useful if you are in front of a store and see one of these QR codes in the window.  You use your camera to scan the code and it brings up the store’s website for you to learn more about the store…sure, you can accomplish the same thing by opening your phone’s web browser, googling the store name and then clicking on the appropriate link, but a QR code can  help you cut out all those steps so that you just go from scanning the code to opening the website in one step.

Example 2.  Downloading an app for your mobile phone.

-Tech websites recommend apps for you to download on your phone all the time.  The normal process is for you to get the name of the app, then go to the app store, type in the name, find the right app (which can be hard when there are similarly named apps), and then download the app.  This can get tedious.  You’ll notice that most tech websites will not only give you the name of the app, but they will also have a QR code next to the name.  You scan this with your phone, and it’ll take you directly to the app in the marketplace for you to download.

These are just 2 examples.  You will find more and more uses for these QR codes as time goes by.

My advice is, download a QR code scanner and just start scanning and see where it takes you.   There are many different apps that can scan QR codes.  Some apps will just be a dedicated QR scanner and that’s all it does.  Other apps combine a QR scanning function along with other barcode related tasks (ex. Shop savvy).  I like to use the “Shop savvy” app because I already have it installed on my phone to scan barcodes on products to find the cheapest prices on things…but that’s just a personal preference.  Just go to your app market place and search “QR scanner” or “QR reader” and pick one.

Happy scanning!

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