Google has quietly stopped offering QR codes for businesses with Places pages.
Google had been offering a QR code to businesses that when scanned opened that business' Google Places page. Google creates Places pages for many businesses but the company has encouraged shops to update their pages with additional information. When it launched the QR code program in late 2009, it started sending stickers with the code to the most popular businesses that updated their pages, with the idea that the businesses would place the stickers in their store windows.
Smartphone users "scan" a QR code by first downloading a QR code application and then taking a photo of the code with their phone, which launches an associated Web page.
Over the past week, some businesses began noticing that their QR code was no longer available in their Places dashboard, where they manage their pages. Google had been letting businesses download the codes to use in their own collateral.
The search giant confirmed that it is no longer offering the codes to Places businesses. "We're exploring new ways to enable customers to quickly and easily find information about local businesses from their mobile phones. In the meantime, the QR codes on stickers from our previous Favorite Places campaign still continue to take users to the Place page for that business," the company said in a statement.
Google could be exploring ways to use near field communications instead of QR codes. It recently added support for NFC to Android. NFC is most commonly discussed as a mobile wallet tool, where users can wave their phones on a sensor to pay for goods. But people can also use NFC devices to download information by waving the device in front of an advertisement on a poster.
Businesses that want to continue to use QR codes have other options. There are many online services that will create a QR code that points users to any specified website.