At one time, QR codes were considered the cool, up-and-coming way to connect brands with consumers online. Unfortunately, the tech didn’t quite explode the way some people had hoped. While QR codes have proved useful and are still around, they are hardly ubiquitous. Nonetheless, scanning a QR code is often the fastest and most convenient way to access a web page, and brands often use these codes on their product packaging or promotional materials to guide consumers to product information or special offers.
Both iOS and Android devices have built-in QR code reader capabilities. Apple’s Camera app and Wallet app have embedded QR code readers and Android’s Google Assistant can help you connect to a QR code via Google Assistant or Google Lens. If these built-in solutions are too obscure or not robust enough for your taste, there are abundant third-party QR code scanner apps out there for both platforms. We’ve selected the best apps available for Android and iOS.
In the meantime, please see our guide on how to scan a QR code with your iPhone or Android device.
The Android-only app from Simple Design is one of the most popular QR code scanner apps. It’s free to use and lets you save QR codes to your phone or easily share them with friends. You can quickly toggle on your flashlight from within the app to scan codes in a dark environment, create QR codes, and view your scan history. Unlike some apps, this scanner doesn’t ask for a bunch of permissions, just access to your camera.
Kaspersky QR Scanner is one of the best free third-party scanning apps for iOS and Android. Developed by the cybersecurity experts at Kaspersky, it does what you’d expect a QR scanning app from a cybersecurity company to do: scan for unsafe and malicious QR codes. It’s as easy to use as your smartphone’s native Camera app. It quickly checks the security of every QR code you scan with it, providing a warning whenever it encounters a dodgy link. It also brings the added benefit of a History tab, so you can quickly return to the websites associated with past QR codes.
Unlike your mobile native Camera app, NeoReader QR & Barcode Scanner can scan barcodes as well as QR codes. So in addition to scanning a QR code and bringing up a link, you can also use it to scan a product’s barcode and search for the product on the web. This is very handy when you find an item while shopping in the store that you’d prefer to order online. NeoReader QR & Barcode Scanner is available for both Android and iOS. It’s easy to use, and it lets you go back through your history of scanned QR codes and barcodes. It’s free to download but comes with an option to pay a small fee to remove pop-up ads.
Developed by the U.K.-based TapMedia, this QR scanning app can scan QR codes quickly and effortlessly. What sets it apart from the crowd is that it can also be used to scan a variety of different things. For instance, it can be used to scan Sudoku puzzles and store them on your smartphone, so you can play them on the go. It can also be used to share QR codes via email or social media.
TapMedia has a variation of its QR Reader for iOS that can scan anything from QR codes, barcodes, puzzles, business cards, and PDF documents. A database scanner can send barcodes to a server. The app’s auto-detect lets you simply point and hold to scan automatically and share via email, messenger, Facebook, or Twitter. Or you can create your own QR codes and export them as PNG or SVG files.
Developed by MixerBox, QR Code Reader & QR Scanner is available only for iPhone. It can scan a wide variety of 1D and 2D code types, including QR codes, barcodes, EAN-13 codes, and more. It scans very quickly and also saves a history of your scans, so you can go back to a QR code very quickly. One nice touch is that it supports flashlight use while the app is working, so you can scan QR codes in the dark. QR Code Reader & QR Scanner is free to download, although you can pay a small fee to remove the ads.
This app is an extensive scanning device that can handle QR codes as well as barcodes, so you can conduct your research while you shop. The app automatically creates a new contact in your phone using the QR codes, including contact information. It can do the same thing with Wi-Fi networks, calendar events, product data, SMS messages, and other connecting features, making the data management process quicker and more straightforward.
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