2020 is the year of the QR code. That’s because 2020, in retrospect, will be the year the world went touchless.
The COVID-19 pandemic proved to everyone that even brief, casual contact with lightly contaminated surfaces is dangerous. That’s why the single use menu has seen its best days.
They’re the premier touchless technology in a world going touchless. You’re only going to encounter more and more of them. So brush up on what is a QR code. And make sure you’ve got a reliable QR code scanner app. You’ll be using it.
What is a QR Code Scanner App?
QR code scanner apps are downloadable applications for mobile devices that scan QR codes.
QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes. That means information is encoded in QR codes both side-to-side and up-and-down. It’s what separates QR codes vs barcodes, which only encode information in one direction. You can read more about QR code history and how QR codes work if you’re interested.
A two-dimensional optical scanner—also called a QR code scanner or QR reader—retrieves the information stored in a QR code. Thankfully, that’s basically what common cameras are. That’s why our smartphone cameras are easily repurposed as QR code scanners. And why QR code scanner apps work so well on our smartphones.
Do You Need QR Reader Apps In 2020?
Probably not. Most smartphones today have built-in QR code scanning and reading functionality.
Is There a QR Code Scanner On My Phone?
There is a QR code scanner app on your phone if you have an Apple product running iOS 11 or later or an Android product running Android version 8 or later.
You do not need a QR reader app if you have an Apple product with iOS 11 or later. iOS was released on September 19, 2017 for the iPhone 5s. If you’ve ever updated to iOS 11 or have any model iPhone after the 5s, you have a built-in QR code scanner in your camera. Go ahead and try a QR code test to see if you’re not sure.
You do not need a QR scanner app if your device runs Android version 8 or later. In Android version 8, Google Lens scans QR codes for all devices running Google Photos. In Android versions 9 and 10, the built-in camera app scans QR codes if “Google Lens suggestions” is activated in Settings. Here’s a more in-depth post about how to scan a QR code with Android.
Can You Scan a QR Code Without an App?
You can scan a QR code without an app—again, if you’re running iOS 11 or later or Android 8 or later. But there are two instances when you may want to seek out third-party QR code scanner apps.
- You’ve got an old phone
- You want more bells and whistles than default QR code scanner functionality provides
If either of those are the case, buckle up. Because we’ve got quite a list for you. Here are the 5 best QR scanners for iPhone and the 5 best QR scanners for Android. In each description, we specifically call out what features the QR reader apps that make them unique.
5 Best QR Scanners for iPhone: iPhone QR Readers
MixerBox’s QR code scanner app is flashlight-supported and scans all standard 1D and 2D barcodes—even in the dark. It’s also got offline capability, which means you can scan in the dark and offline. God forbid you ever find yourself in such an environment. Conveniently, though, offline scanning can eliminate some QR code scanning problems linked to spotty internet connections. The app saves scan history and employs rapid scan technology, too. The free, base app has ads. It’s $1.99 per month to remove them. All in all, one of the better QR scanners for iPhone.
QR Code Reader by TinyLab recognizes over 15 types of barcode, including, of course, custom QR codes. It offers a scan history, folders to keep organized, and large-scale batch scanning capabilities. It’s also got the ability to export to CSV, which many QR scanners for iPhone don’t have. The free version has a limited number of scans, though. Subscription to the PRO account unlocks unlimited scans and removes ads.
TapMedia’s QR reader app is one of the iPhone QR readers with the most ratings. And they still hold steady at a 4.7/5.0 rating. Impressive. They’ve got all the standard third-party QR code scanner app goodies, too. Like the ability to scan and create QR codes and export scans to a CSV. But on top of that, the app has three unique scanners. A puzzle scanner to scan and play puzzles, a database scanner to send barcodes directly to an API, and a PDF scanner. It’s not a PDF accessibility checker, FYI.
Helpfully, the app also lets you approve websites accessed via QR code scan before visiting them. Good, too, because QR codes that link to shady websites are one of the primary QR code security risks of using free online QR code PDF generators to change a URL to a QR code. Here's how to find the best QR code generator and minimize those risks.
If you’ve got your mind set on third-party iPhone QR reader apps but you don’t want something complicated, this one’s for you. Komorebi’s contribution to the QR code scanner app ecosystem is a basic QR code scanner app with two special claims to fame. The app loads fast and it’s downright simple. It’s got solid QR code scanning functionality along with the ability to save scanning history.
Kaspersky Lab is a multinational cybersecurity company that’s been producing leading anti-virus software for decades. They leverage this strength to instantly check the safety of any QR code scanned. Kaspersky QR Code Scanner also provides a QR code scan history. With Kaspersky behind it, this is one of the most secure QR scanners for iPhone.
5 Best QR Scanners for Android: Android QR Readers
BACHA Soft’s QR reader app is one of, if not the, highest rated QR scanners for Android in the Google Play Store. At least among the QR code scanner app downloads with hundreds of thousands of installs. It features a QR code creator and the option to create QR codes for destinations and directions, contact information, and bookmarks. You don't even have to learn how to make your own QR code. It'll do it for you. It functions offline, has a searchable history of your QR code scanning activity, and can scan barcodes.
The Google QR & Barcode Scanner app upgrades the Google Lens-powered QR scanner functionality in Android versions 8, 9, and 10. It allows you to create QR codes, scan images from your gallery, and share your contact information via QR code. In addition to all the great things Google Lens can do. Oh, and it also scans the majority of traditional barcode and other 2D barcode types. Probably the most reliable of the Android QR readers—because it’s Google.
Gamma Play’s QR code scanner app has similar features to the other highly-rated third-party Android QR reader apps in the Google Play Store. You can create a QR code, scan codes from images in your photo gallery, and share contact info via QR code. This QR code scanner app download is so reliable, it maintains a 4.6/5.0 rating with over 1.2 million downloads. They’re obviously doing something right.
This all-in-one QR code scanner app reads virtually every 1D and 2D code types. It’s flashlight supported, has an editable history of all scans, and can generate QR codes. They also recently rolled out a new feature that allows scanning while zoomed, allowing QR codes to be scanned from a distance. Clever way to circumvent QR code minimum size best practices, that. One of the easier QR scanners for Android to use.
NeoReader is a comprehensive barcode scanner—not just a QR code scanner app. Though it obviously does that well. And not only does it scan QR codes, it creates them too. And it claims it scans the broadest selection of both one- and two-dimensional barcodes of all the QR scanners for Android.
Learn to Love QR Code Scanner Apps
Because they ain’t going anywhere! Like any other tool, it’s up to you to survey the market and find the one that suits you. The one that makes you smile. Your forever QR code scanner app.
It may sound silly, but you really grow attached to these apps. In mere moments, they decipher strange collections of squares and unlock crucial information—for free. And they live in our pockets. Without complaining. You can’t ask for much more from an expert codebreaker.
They’re the key to sustained social distancing in business and commerce, which is the future of transacting. Just look at how perfectly suited a QR code-based digital restaurant table menu is for the moment. QR code statistics make it clear that we’re in a new era.
So find your very own QR reader app and aim it right at that QR code on the table. You’ve got some scanning to do.