QR codes–square, dot-matrix variants of the venerable UPC–are becoming an increasingly popular way to share information such as URLs, contact details, GPS coordinates, and calendar events. The idea is to make information machine-readable so that you can input it, share it, and use it with minimal effort. QR Droid uses your Android phone’s camera to read and decipher QR codes, and it allows you to create and share your own, too.
You can use QR Droid in two basic ways. The indirect way is to go through the Share menu in other apps, such as the Web browser or Google Maps. Select QR Droid, and it will convert the URL or location into a QR code, which you can then save as an image or share via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, or a multisharing app like Pixelpipe.
The direct way is to open the QR Droid app and select one of its nine options. The first six options are for encoding data. The Contact option is pretty straightforward: Pick a contact from your address book and convert it to a QR code. The URL Address function encodes a hyperlink; you can type in the URL or select it from sites that you’ve bookmarked in the Web browser. Through the ‘Calendar event’ option, you can encode an event’s title, start and end times, dates, time zone, location, and description. I was disappointed to find that it can’t encode events from the Calendar app–you have to enter them manually. However, once the event is in QR code form, it can appear in the Calendar app automatically when you scan the code.
The Application option allows you to select from your installed apps and make a QR code–similar to the ones right here in PCWorld’s AppGuide–that link to the app in the Android Market. You can then e-mail the QR code to a friend for them to scan and thereby install the app. With the ‘Phone number’ option, you can select a number from your address book, or you can add it manually. And under ‘Free text’ you can encode any combination of text; for example, you could encode a brief note along with a hyperlink.
The remaining three options are for decoding QR codes. ‘From saved image’ and ‘From camera’ are very similar: Once the app decodes the image, you can send the text via e-mail, SMS, or installed apps (such as Twitter) that show up in the Share menu. You can also copy the data to the clipboard and do a Web search with it.
The last option is interesting: You can specify the URL of a QR code, and the app will decode it. This feature also works with shortened links (for instance, http://3.ly/Techgnostic). You can use this feature if you find a QR code while browsing the Web with your Android phone (go to Menu, More, Share page, Decode this QR image).
With QR Droid, you can begin to explore the creative possibilities of making your own QR codes. If you simply wish to scan codes and not create them, you might want to try Google Goggles.
See other articles by Brent W. Hopkins.