Scanning QR Codes

In addition to the 1D product barcodes that you see every day, a different and more complex kind of barcode has become popular in recent years. These barcodes are easy to spot, because they encode data along both their width and height, in a matrix of squares. For example, you may have already seen a barcode in the QR Code or Data Matrix format:

You can enable or disable scanning of these formats individually in Settings.

These barcodes can be scanned like product barcodes. They contain more information than a 1D product barcode, and more complex types of information. These formats can encode a link to website, a phone number, contact information, and more.

As a result, on the result screen, the action buttons you will find after scanning such a barcode depend on the type of the barcode’s contents.

Hyperlink or URL

Most commonly, the barcode contains a hyperlink to a web site. You can press the URL itself to open a browser to view that web page, or otherwise access the URI’s contents. You will also see several action buttons:

  • Open browser. This also accesses the URI in the same way, typically by opening the device’s browser. Note that some URIs, like “market:” URIs, will be opened by another application; “market:” URIs are opened by the Android Market app for example.
  • Share via email. Share the link by sending an e-mail.
  • Share via SMS. Share the link by sending an SMS, or text message.

Contact Information

If the barcode contains contact information encoded in the MECARD or vCard format, you will see several buttons depending on what pieces of contact information are encoded:

  • Add contact. This option will always be present; it adds the contact information to your device’s address book.
  • Show map. If the contact information contains an address, this will attempt to show the address on a map using Google Maps.
  • Dial number. If the contact information contains a phone number, this will open the device’s dialer with the number ready to dial.
  • Send email. Likewise in the contact information contains an e-mail address, this will open an e-mail client on the device to compose and e-mail to that address.

E-mail address

If the contents of the barcode are an e-mail address, or a “mailto:” URI, then you will be able to:

  • Add contact. This adds the contact information to your device’s address book containing only the e-mail address
  • Send email. This will open an e-mail client on the device to compose and e-mail to that address.

Telephone number

Similarly, if the barcode contains only a telephone number, you can:

  • Add contact. This adds the contact information to your device’s address book containing only the phone number
  • Dial number. Opens the device’s dialer with the number ready to dial.

SMS

If the barcode encodes an “sms:” or “mms:” URI, then you will see buttons to:

  • Send SMS. Opens the device’s messaging application and composes and SMS, or text message, to the number in the barcode.
  • Send MMS. Same, but attempts to compose an MMS, or multimedia text message.

Calendar

Barcodes can also encode information about an event, at a certain time and place. If you scan a barcode containing information in the vCal format, you will be able to:

  • Add to calendar. Opens the device’s calendar application and creates a new event with the information in the barcode, including date and time, place, name, and so forth.

Geographic location

It is possible to store a location in a barcode, as a “geo:” URI containing latitude and longitude. If one of these is scanned, then the result screen will contain buttons that allow you to:

  • Show map. This attempts to open Google Maps or other mapping application to show the location from the barcode on a map.
  • Get directions. Opens Google Maps in order to try to get directions from the current location to that geographical location.

Wi-fi

Barcodes can encode the details of a wi-fi network, including network name, type and password. Scanning one enables you to connect to a wi-fi network easily:

  • Connect to Network. This attempts to connect the device to the wi-fi network named in the barcode, using the supplied type and password. You will see a screen that shows the progress of this connection.

Text

If the contents of the barcode are not recognized as any of the special types above, it will be treated as simple text. In that case, you can:

  • Web search. Search for the text by querying Google Web Search.
  • Share via email. Share the text by sending an e-mail.
  • Share via SMS. Share the text by sending an SMS, or text message.
  • Custom search. If you have set a custom search URL, this will allow you to search your custom search URL for the text.

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