The iPhone and iPad now include native QR code reading built directly into the camera app, allowing you to scan QR codes quickly using an iOS device and without having to download any third party software.
QR codes are commonly encountered in the outside world, they typically look like a square of some scattered pixelated black blocks against a white background, and they are often used to redirect people to websites, information about products or services, download apps or media, amongst other functions.
For the iPhone or iPad to have native QR code scanning capabilities, you’ll need iOS 11 or later installed on the device. If you don’t have iOS 11 but you still want to scan QR codes, you can scan QR codes with Chrome, or with third party apps. Beyond that, it’s remarkably simple to use the feature.
How to Read QR Codes on iPhone or iPad
Here is how to read QR codes in iOS with the native QR code scanning capability.
- Open the Camera app on the iPhone or iPad, or swipe to open Camera from the device lock screen
- Point the camera viewfinder at the QR code you wish to scan
- Hold the camera steady for a moment until a little notification pops up on the top of the screen demonstrating the action of the scanned QR code, and tap on that notification to perform the action (visit a website, app store, etc)
Note you do not need to press the capture or shutter button, just pointing the camera and holding it steady at the QR code is sufficient to read it with iPhone or iPad.
In the example here, a QR code is used to direct the QR code scanner to a website (osxdaily.com), and thus tapping on the notification at the top of the screen will open the website in Safari on the iPhone or iPad.
Try it out yourself, it’s very simple. If you want a sample QR code to scan for testing purposes, try opening your iPhone or iPad camera (with iOS 11 or later installed on the device) and then point it at this image on screen:
You’ll soon see an alert pop-up near the top of the display, and tapping on that will open this website.
The biggest potential obstacles for scanning QR codes with an iPhone or iPad is usually the lighting where the QR code is located, or if the camera is unsteady and blurry, in either case then the QR code will not be properly identified or read. Just keep the camera steady and make sure there is enough light on the QR code and it should work fine.
How can I make a QR code?
The next obvious question is how to make your own QR codes. Fortunately there are many free services and apps to do this, one example is a website called “GoQR.me” and another is Scan.me”, they’re both free to use via the web and simple to use.
As mentioned before, if you don’t have iOS 11 or newer on the iPhone or iPad but you still wish to scan QR codes, you can use Chrome for iOS to scan them (yes the web browser), or a third party app like Scan.