If you’ve been in a public space in the last year or two, you’ve probably seen a QR code—a small, square two-dimensional barcode that looks a bit like a miniature crossword puzzle. They’ve been around for more than 15 years, but they’ve recently exploded in popularity, thanks to smartphones, which are perfect QR-scanners.
In this article, we’ll show you how to make a distinctive, personalized QR code to put on your business card, or anything else.
It sucks, but malicious apps are beginning to be a common occurrence on Android phones. Studies have shown that malware-ridden Android apps have been on a meteoric rise throughout the year. A new report says the havoc is spreading; many of us know better than to click on a link from an untrusted source, but scammers have started working around that by offering scannable QR codes that link directly to malware.
Google's URL shortener is now fully active, and available to everyone. Many predicted this would be bad news for Bit.ly, but the company isn't going down without a fight. One of the useful features of Goo.gl is that you can add ".qr" to any of the shortened URLs to get a scannable QR code. QR codes can be scanned with many mobile phones. Now Bit.ly is adopting the same feature.
This will work with regular Bit.ly links, as well as the custom version used by many sites. Just add .qr and you'll get the page with the QR code. But what's that? Under the QR code we see the Bit.ly mascot about to make a snack of some colorful orbs. Some Google-colored orbs, in fact. Yeah, take that Google.
Bit.ly and Goo.gl both provide excellent analytics on shortened links, but Goo.gl has not fully rolled out its API, so it is not implemented in as many places. Have you ever used the .qr trick on a Goo.gl link? Will you now?
Google is working to leverage its underused Google Checkout service as a way to offer mobile payments for a range of businesses. The process requires a business to get set up in advance, and the customer must be using an Android phone. A merchant just needs to open a Google Checkout account al list their merchandise in the store. The new Android Payment Chrome Extension. When a customer wants to make a purchase, the merchant generates a chipping cart that offers a QR code. The customer scans the QR code with the phone, and a page opens that allows them to pay directly with Google Checkout.
There are obviously limitations to the system as it currently stands. It requires the use of Google products like Chrome and Android, but that could change in the future. We'd like to see this payment method expanded since it looks to be innately more secure than mobile payment methods like Square. The use has all the control over allowing payment. If the process can be streamlined, and expanded to more platforms, it could solve a lot of problems.
About a year ago Microsoft released an iPhone app called Tag. It allowed users to scan Microsoft’s own 2D barcode format, often referred to as Microsoft Tag. Now that app is available on Google’s Android platform as well. This is the first app Redmond has made for the Android OS, and given the frosty relationship between Google and Microsoft, it comes as a bit of a surprise.
This is also of interest given that Android already makes good use of a different 2D barcode format, the QR code. Android users already use apps like Barcode Reader and Google Goggles to read those codes. The Microsoft Tag codes are small square images like QR codes, but unlike QR codes they make use of color to encode information. Scanning them can direct users to websites, provide coupons, or provide just display text.
It’s nice to see that Microsoft isn’t eschewing Android completely in anticipation of their upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series devices. The question though: have you ever actually seen one of these Microsoft Tags? QR codes are more widespread, and Android already makes use of them. Still, the Microsoft Tag app is free, and in the Market if you want it. Just scan the QR code below with an Android phone if you wish... oh the irony.
Google’s Android platform has been making use of QR codes since its inception. A QR code is a useful way to encapsulate information that can be read by cell phone cameras. In the case of Android, many app developers use them to direct people to their applications. Such is the case with The Weather Channel, which just threw up a QR code for their Android app during the national forecast. The code takes Android users straight to the Weather Channel app in the Android Market.
This is one of the most mainstream uses of QR codes we’ve seen thus far. Some countries have been in on the QR code game for years now, but Android is the first major mobile platform to popularize them in the US. There’s definitely something to be said for QR codes. They are very efficient ways to disseminate information. In fact, the admittedly fuzzy screen cap below still contains a working code. It would be interesting if Android users found themselves increasingly bombarded with QR codes on TV.