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How to Scan QR Codes with Android Smartphones

What are QR Codes and why do you have to scan them?

QR Codes were originally developed to expand barcode technology. QR Codes offer better functionality because their square shape allows them to be scanned both horizontally and vertically. Before there were smartphones, QR codes were read with scanners as part of inventory management. Nowadays, thanks to smartphones, there are much more advanced methods. Through the scanning process, you can call up the information associated with the respective QR code. This can be done either via a smartphone app or directly via the camera on your smartphone (on some newer models).

Which smartphones use Android?

Android is one of the most popular mobile operating systems and is used by a corresponding number of smartphones. Some of the newest and most popular smartphones running Android are:

...and many more.

If you are not sure whether your smartphone is using Android, there is an easy way to check. To do this, open your "Settings" and then select "Device information" or ask the manufacturer of your smartphone.

How to check that the camera on your Android smartphone can automatically scan QR codes

Don't worry if your Android smartphone isn't in the list above. You can still try to scan QR Codes without the app. To find out if your camera has this feature, please follow the steps below:

  1. Open your camera app and calmly point the camera at the QR code you want to scan for 2-3 seconds.
  2. A notification will appear if the scan function is activated.
  3. If nothing happens, you may have to activate the scanning of QR codes in the settings first.
  4. Unfortunately, if there is no option for QR Codes available in your device's settings, it cannot scan QR Codes by default. But don't worry, it just means you need to download a third-party QR code reader app (see our recommendations below).

Alternatively, you can read this guide on how to find out the Android version of your device.

Scanning QR Codes using “Now on Tap” in Android 6.0

If your Android smartphone uses Android 6.0 Marshmallow, you can use the "Now on Tap" function to read QR codes directly. To read QR codes via "Now on Tap", please proceed as follows:

  • Install and open the Google app.
  • Choose immediate activation.
  • Go to "Settings" and select "Screen Search".
  • Turn on the top switch ("Prompts Google to show you relevant information about what's on your screen when you press and hold the home button or search by voice").
  • To start "Now on Tap", press and hold the home button on your Android smartphone to scan QR codes with your camera.

If you prefer not to use “Now on Tap”, you can also install a third-party QR Code scanning app (see our app recommendations below).

Android 7 and lower (except Android 6.0)

These versions of Android (with the exception of Android 6.0) cannot scan QR Codes without a third-party scanner app.
Below are some of our app recommendations.

Scanning QR Codes with Android 8.0, 9.0 and 10.0

If your smartphone uses Android 8.0 or higher, it can very likely scan QR codes without an app. In the following we explain three options for this:

Google screen search

You don't need an app to scan a QR code using Google screen search. You can do the following to scan a QR code:

  1. Point your camera at the QR code.
  2. Press and hold the Home button and swipe up to see the options below.
  3. Select "What is showing on my screen?"
  4. The short URL then appears, via which the information in the QR code can be called up.

Google Lens in Assistant

This is a super-easy way to scan QR Codes without an app. To scan a QR code in the Assistant with Google Lens, please follow the steps below:

  1. Press and hold the Home key to access the Assistant.
  2. Depending on which version of the Assistant you are using, the Lens icon may already appear automatically. If not, tap on the row of dots below and the Lens icon will appear on the left.
  3. If you've never used Lens before, you'll need to enable access to your camera. When that's done, all you have to do is point your camera at it to scan a QR code.

The Google Lens app

You can also access Google Lens through the Google Lens app. To scan a QR code with the Google Lens app, you must first download it from the Google Play Store and then proceed exactly as described above, starting with the 2nd step.

Important note: If your smartphone uses Android 8.0 or higher, it may have an update that allows you to scan QR codes directly from your device's camera. It is then of course not necessary to use the functions described above. There is a section above that explains how you can check whether the camera on your Android smartphone can automatically scan QR codes.

How to Scan QR Codes with Samsung Galaxy

There are several ways to scan QR codes with a Samsung smartphone. Please note that there may be deviations depending on the Galaxy model and the operating system version you are using.

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