The QR code system was originally invented back in the year 1994, pre-dating the smartphone by a decade and a half. The QR code (Quick Response code) that was once mainly aimed at identifying products for stores in a way that was more versatile than the more popular barcode system – UPC barcodes. It doesn’t take much more than a camera and a bit of software support to allow a smartphone to use a QR code – so why isn’t it a more popular system of communication?
This week Apple released an Apple Support video called “How to scan a QR code with Camera on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.” The video’s contents are less important than the implications the video makes. Take for example the fact that Apple continues to include the iPod touch alongside the iPhone and iPad, indicating that Apple hasn’t yet given up on the third category of mobile device.
If we take a peek at the official support document for scanning a QR code for iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch, we see the last update date as November 18, 2020. This document focuses on the QR code ability to send a device to a specific web address.
Apple also has a Scan a QR code with the iPad camera document that gives more than one option for ways to read. Users are shown that they can use the camera app with the iPad to read a QR code and “tap the notification that appears on the screen to go to the relevant website or app.” Apple also has an expanded set of ways to use a QR code on this page, suggesting that users can use Camera or Code Scanner to scan QR codes for “links to websites, apps, coupons, tickets, and more.”
The camera how-to sticks to the basic system included in the iPhone, iPod, iPad document. This iPadOS document also includes what was once called “QR Code Reader” and is now called “Code Scanner.” Users will have to head to Settings – Control Center – and tap the + symbol next to Code Scanner. Once active, the Code Scanner can be found in the users’ Control Center.
The release date for this video and the switch from QR Code Reader to Code Scanner in Apple mobile device software suggests that Apple is onboard with QR codes (and other sorts of camera-readable codes) for the long haul. Remember when your wild uncle Jerry said that QR codes would never last, and all those QR code business cards you bought were a waste of cash? Joke’s on you, Jerry!