The next iOS camera will be able to read QR codes natively

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Andrea De Martin / 123RF

iOS 11 is gaining a number of new features including built-in filters and Live Photo edits, but developers have noticed another feature — an integrated QR or Quick Read code scanner.

QR codes are unique graphics that link to a website or other information source, including such data as contact details to Wi-Fi log-in details, but, for iOS users, they require downloading an app to read them. iOS 11 could change that, as developers have spotted the ability to scan a QR code inside the native camera app.

In the software update, the native camera app can read the code, and displays the data automatically in a pop-up notification, no app download necessary. The feature is new to iOS 11, which is slated for release sometime this fall.

While the native feature is new for iOS, users don’t necessarily need an app dedicated entirely to the task of scanning codes anymore. Google’s Chrome on iOS launched an in-app QR scanner earlier this year. Shapchat also launched a similar “snapcode” that allows users to generate and read QR codes, while both Snapchat and Twitter allow users to turn their profiles into QR codes, eliminating the typing to search for new profiles to follow.

QR codes have been around for a few years — and seem to have faded in and out of popularity. A survey back in 2012 when the codes were popping up in multiple paces showed that 97 percent of respondents didn’t know what a QR code was. While the QR code is a tech that’s faded from the limelight, a Scanbury study showed a growth of QR scans of 7.5 percent in 2015.

QR codes are one of several ways that cameras and object recognition technology are taking on tasks normally left up to a keyboard, alongside tech from Google Lens to in-app barcode scanners. Whether or not QR codes will stick around, iOS users will soon be able to get rid of one more app — and still retain the ability to scan the codes.