How to scan QR codes with your smartphone

By now you will have seen those square, patterned images printed all over adverts, posters and billboards – but what are they and what do they do?

What are QR codes?

QR codes, or quick-response codes, are a type of matrix barcode that contain information about the item to which it is attached.

By scanning them with your smartphone, you can be taken to a website, view exclusive content or more information about something, or even enter competitions.

How do I scan them?

You will need to download a QR scanning app which can interpret the code, then it’s simply a case of launching the app, scanning the code with your smartphone’s camera and viewing the information.

There are a number of free scanner apps available – Android users can find ShopSavvy, QR Barcode Scanner and NeoReader in the Google Play store.

Users of iOS can download QR Scanner and QR Code Reader and Scanner from the App Store for free, while Windows Phone handsets have access to the app, QR Code Reader.

Some QR scanning apps can also read product barcodes, for price-matching and product information, but apart from this, most of the apps are like for like.

Once you’ve chosen and downloaded your QR scanning app, tap the icon to launch the programme. Your smartphone’s camera will activate and a square box will appear in the middle of your screen.

Place your handset’s camera over the QR code until it is centred in the scan box. Touch the scan button and wait for the reader to decode the barcode – the app will then automatically open the website or display the content which was embedded in the QR code.