How to use QR codes [the barcode squares] to get apps

November 5, 2009 | by Andrew Kameka

Android Tutorials, Beginner's Guide to Android

How to use QR codes [the barcode squares] to get apps

I recently got an email from someone asking, “What do I do with the barcode squares?” This is a common question asked on this site, so I figured that I might as well make a post explaining why those black and white lines in a box appear on the website so often.

The “barcode squares” are QR codes, a two-dimensional bar code that can store information like URLs. We use QR codes as an easier way to share links to apps in the Android Market. We do this because the Android Market has a surprisingly terrible search mechanism and it’s not easy to find some apps. To combat that problem, – like many Android websites – incorporates QR codes as a shortcut to finding those apps.

Here’s how to use the QR codes to make finding apps easier. Below is a QR code for one of my favorite Android apps, Key Ring Rewards Card.

Barcode Scanner is required to read the QR code. To get the app, open the Android Market and start a search for “Barcode.” You’ll see several options, but ignore all of them and scroll down to an app labeled “Barcode Scanner” and download the application.


After the app is installed, launch Barcode Scanner and you’ll see a red line across the screen. Move the phone forward to make the viewfinder zoom in on the QR code. The light from your computer screen will occasionally make it difficult to read. If that occurs, back up from the screen and then slowly move forward until the QR code comes into focus.


Once the code is read, a notification will come up that there is a Found URL. Click the “Open Browser” button and it will then bring up your application in the Android Market. Voila, you’ve got your app link. Now you know how to use QR codes.


There have been issues with certain users being unable to scan QR codes because of their phone model (i.e. Galaxy can’t read it but a G1 can). If you have trouble scanning a code, try closing the application, make sure your camera lens is free of smudges, and then reattempt. If that doesn’t work, you’ll just have to search the Android Market and cross your fingers. Good luck!