You can now scan QR Codes without needing to install an app. All you need to do is hold up the iPhone camera. It’s so easy we might finally start using them.

The problem with QR codes in the past was that our phones didn’t do QR scanning on their own, you had to download and open an app, and who could be bothered with that?

QR codes contained information including links to websites, email addresses, phone numbers, tickets, passes, and coupons. They provide a shortcut so that you don't have to enter the information that will get you to where you need to be (or reveal the information that the marketing person who’d set up the code wants you to see).

Unfortunately the experience was never that rewarding, and usually having done it once, nobody ever did it again. That’s assuming you even did it once.

Now QR codes are making a bit of a comeback. You will see QR codes tied into augmented reality, and you will also see them in the form of Snap Codes, Spotify Codes, and Messenger Codes. All this means you can expect to see a few more QR code around. And when you do, scanning them will be much easier than it used to be thanks to a new feature in the iOS 11 camera.

How to scan a QR code with the iPhone

  1. Make sure your iPhone is running iOS 11.
  2. Open the Camera on your iPhone and point it at the code.
  3. Make sure the QR Code is in focus and clearly visible on your iPhone screen.
  4. When your iPhone recognises the QR code you will see a notification which reveals the information hidden within the QR code, for example, you may see a preview of the link that the code leads to.
  5. If you don’t see this notification try zooming in or tapping on the QR code to focus better.
  6. Tap the notification to go to the web page, ring the phone number, or email the contact.

We found it to be a bit unreliable - we got our best results when we zoomed in on the QR Code.

Try scanning this QR Code to open the Macworld website:

How to scan Facebook Messenger Codes with the iPhone

You may have noticed that your profile picture in Facebook Messenger is surrounded by dots and dashes.

This is a Messenger code, and it’s a little like a QR code in that it contains data that you can unlock with the iPhone app.

  1. To add a new contact in Messenger using their code open Messenger
  2. Tap on People
  3. Tap on Scan Code
  4. Hold the Messenger camera over the code so it fits in the circle
  5. It will scan it and add them as a contact

To see someone's Messenger Code, ask them to tap on their icon in the top left corner of FaceBook Messenger, or tap on People > Scan Code > My Code.

How to scan Snap Codes with the iPhone

Snapcodes arrived in 2015 and can be used to add someone as a friend on Snapchat

Even the White House (When Obama was president) made a Snapcode, and it was their Twitter profile picture for a while.

  1. To add a person to Snapchat via their Snapcode you need to point your snapchat camera at the code.
  2. Tap on the code to scan it.
  3. Snapchat will add your new friend’s details to your Snapchat contacts.

How to scan Spotify codes with the iPhone

Spotify also uses scannable images to make sharing music easier.

  1. To scan a Spotify code open Spotify
  2. Scan the code using the Spotify search camera

Also read: How to scan documents and photos using your iPhone.