Guide: What is a QR Code? (Beginners)

First of all, I’d like to tell you that you made the right choice grabbing an Android device. So, let’s get down into just what your new Android smartphone can do for you. The best way to do that is to grab the apps that get you up and using the power of Android quickly, without causing too much reading. Let’s be honest here, you don’t want to read a novel on how to use your smartphone, you’d rather take the knowledge in doses so you can get back to the 108th level of Angry Birds. If you’ve had an Android device for some time, pass this information around to other Android newbies you know around you.

A question many people have when they look around in stores and websites now, is what the heck are those black and white squares for? Those are called ‘QR Codes‘ (quick response code), and your Android device has the ability to scan them and display information. Until the past year or so, QR codes didn’t really take off into mainstream advertising. Now, you see them everywhere from Real Estate, Starbucks, and the latest Best Buy flyers. They can do much more than just display websites and facebook pages though, with the right app, you can easily share your installed apps, contact information and clipboard to anyone with a QR code scanner too. (The other person will need an Android device to grab your shared application though).

There are lots of QR code and barcode scanning apps on the market, but I like to use Barcode Scanner from ZXing Team. It’s a simple to use, free app that works on all Android devices. Once you use it and want to try other apps out, by all means. For now though, grab it from the Android Market by clicking here.

Once it’s installed, you’ll be able to see Barcode Scanner in your list of apps. Press to open it up and you’ll see a one time note on the features of the app, just press “OK” or “Close” to continue. Now you’ll see a window from your rear camera with a red line blinking across the middle. That’s the scanner, and it’s waiting for you to scan a QR code.

Press the ‘Menu‘ or ‘Settings‘ button on your device while still in the app and you’ll see a ‘Share‘ function. Press that and you’ll be taken to a screen that asks you what you would like to share, like what you see below.

In the following picture, I chose to share an application with you. When you press ‘Application‘, it’ll give you a list of installed applications on your device to share and show the QR code for. The one I shared below is called Wind-Up Knight, and it’s my new favorite game. Go ahead, scan the QR code below if you like.

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to get information and apps shared in several ways. This is one of those apps that hardly anyone uses or knows about, but should given the popularity of QR codes in the media and advertising.

Let’s give it a try now. Back up or open Barcode Scanner again. Aim the viewfinder with the blinking red line at the QR below and wait for it to be in full view.

Once it finds it, you’ll see the same thing as the image below. All you need to do now is press “Open in browser” and it’ll take you to our TalkAndroid website within the ‘Guides‘ section. Now you can bookmark it and come back when you want to pick up a few more Android tips and news!

Android Market Link
Barcode Scanner from ZXing Team

TalkAndroid QR Code created using Kaywa. Create your own free by clicking here.

» See more articles by Jesse Bauer


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  • Benjamin Klaus

    Hello Jesse,

    you recommend “Barcode Scanner from ZXing Team”. May I ask you a question about the app?

    This app requires these permissions amongst others:
    read + modify CONTACTS
    read + write call LOG
    full NETWORK ACCESS

    In the wiki of ZXing Team is explained about the permissions.
    They say the app is open source – and therefore I think it should be safe.

    WHATS YOU GENERAL GUIDELINE TO ASSES IF AN APP – WITH STRANGE PERMISSIONS – IS SAFE TO USE (privacy, copying contacts…)?

    kind regards

    Benjamin