QR codes are very useful for sharing information, such as contact cards or access to the WiFi network. To read them you need a phone, although an application is not essential: the iPhone has everything you need to capture them on the fly. For the QRs in a photo the thing changes, but it’s not much more complicated either: we recommend a simple app.
Visual codes have been with us for many years. So much so that they have evolved from bar codes (one-dimensional) to the current, often complex, QR (two-dimensional) codes: a lot of information can be hidden inside a set of black and white squares. And all you need is a phone camera to find out what it says in the code; without the need for apps for basic reading: the iPhone is enough and spare for that.
How to read QR codes on the fly on the iPhone without installing apps
Apple introduced the ability to read QR codes with iOS 11 almost three years ago. In this way the mobiles gained a native reading system, but always on the fly and using the camera. In other words, you cannot read the QR code of a photograph stored on the reelIf you point the camera at it, you can see what the QR is hiding.
There are two ways to read QR codes on iOS devices without installing applications: with the native option of the camera and through the web. Let’s start with the first one:
- Open the iPhone camera application.
- Point the camera at the QR. Keep enough distance so that the code is clearly seen.
- The camera will automatically read the code and will print on screen what it hides. If it’s text, you can search for it on the web (or copy it from the search box); if it’s a link, you can click it to open it in Safari.
This is the quick and easy way to access QR code reading on iOS camera devices. With the capture application you have enough, although you may be looking for an alternative way. And without downloading apps from the App Store:
- Open Safari and access this website: a QR code reader will open.
- Click on the share icon, then click on ‘Add to Home Screen’. Confirm with ‘Add’: the QR page is a progressive web application. It will be downloaded to your iPhone as a separate app, although browser dependent.
- Once added to the home page, just click on the icon each time you want to read a QR code: the progressive web application will open to scan it.
With the Progressive Web App, you have a true QR code reader on your phone without downloading anything from the App Store. The problem is that there’s no way to read the QR codes on a photo – if you were sent one per message, and you want to read it from your iPhone, you’ll have to use a separate application. Or capture it from another phone, a cumbersome option you won’t always have available.
How to read the QR of a photo on the iPhone
To read the QRs on the images you do need an application as there is no way to get the function natively. There are many apps that are good for the task, most of them full of ads and even subscriptions (yes, subscription to read QR codes, the absurd). After a screening, we decided to keep NeoReader: it is free, it does not have too many ads, and is suitable for both capturing QRs with a camera and reading them from a photo.
Once you have installed NeoReader, open the application, avoid the location permission (the app works the same) and click on the camera icon in the upper right. Choose the image you have in the gallery and NeoReader will reveal what its QR code hides. However, you will have to go to the ‘History’ section, at the bottom of the app: there you will find the list of readings.