Scanning QR code with phone.
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Early smartphones were pretty basic. They relied on apps to do a lot of the more powerful and interesting things. For example, scanning QR codes—you needed to download an app to do it. That’s not the case anymore.

Flashlight apps have experienced a similar trajectory. What once required a third-party app from the app store is now a baked-in feature on Android and iPhone. You don’t need a flashlight app anymore, and you don’t need a QR code scanner app anymore either.

RELATED: Stop Using Flashlight Apps

What Is a QR Code Scanner?

QR code scanner.

A QR code scanner is simply an app that can detect QR codes. A QR code is a form of barcode that contains information. You and I can’t read that information with our eyes, but a QR code scanner can.

QR codes can contain many different things. It can be a simple URL, plain text, a contact card, PDF, email, phone number, Wi-Fi network details, or even a prefilled text message. There’s a lot that can be done with QR codes, which is why you should know how to scan them.

All you have to do is point the app at the QR code and you’ll see the information contained in the strange boxy pattern. Except you don’t need an app anymore.

RELATED: QR Codes Explained: Why You See Those Square Barcodes Everywhere

The Problem With QR Code Scanner Apps

Tap Code Scanner Shortcut from Control Center

The main problem with QR code scanner apps is they’re unnecessary. Both the iPhone and Android phones have built-in methods for doing this.

The iPhone’s camera app can automatically detect when a QR code is in the frame. It’s as easy as taking a photo. You can also create a shortcut to the QR code scanner in the Control Center.

The story is much the same over on Android. Samsung Galaxy phones can also scan QR codes with the camera app. If yours can’t do that, a shortcut can be added to the Quick Settings panel.

Beyond simply being redundant, QR code scanner apps have the same security and privacy concerns as flashlight apps. Many of them abuse permissions that are not necessary for scanning a QR code. It’s a sneaky way to hide malware in an otherwise unassuming app.

At the end of the day, QR code scanner apps are just a relic of the early smartphone era. Android and iOS have evolved to include features like this that make highly specialized apps unnecessary. It’s a bit of a bummer for developers who were making nice apps, but easier for you.

RELATED: It's Time to Ditch Your Old Android Phone

Profile Photo for Joe Fedewa Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has been covering consumer technology for over a decade and previously worked as Managing Editor at XDA-Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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