iOS 11 Will Enable The iPhone Camera App To Read QR Codes

When iOS 11 finally lands this fall, iPhone users might be able to stop using their third-party QR code scanner apps and instead, just use the Camera app included by Apple. The company unveiled iOS 11 at WWDC earlier this week, and now that some developers who are at the conference have gotten a chance to try out the beta, a variety of tidbits about it are starting to come out.

qr code ios 11
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iPhone Camera app in iOS 11 can read QR codes

Currently, iPhone, iPad and iPod users have to download a third-party app if they want to scan QR codes. However, according to Mac Rumors, some developers who have had an opportunity to try out the iOS 11 beta have posted details about the QR code scanning feature on Twitter. From what has been posted, it looks to be very basic and easily accessible through the Camera app on the iPhone, iPad or iPod.

To scan a QR code in iOS 11, users just have to open up the Camera app and then aim the device at the code. A notification pops up when the app recognizes that there’s a QR code in front of the device, and the user just has to tap on that notification to scan the code.

iOS 11 takes QR code scanning to the next level

Apparently, iOS 11 is even able to recognize what a QR code is about and then ask the device user if they want to act on it. For example, one Twitter user reports that the reader recognizes when a provided code is a Wi-Fi network and asks the user if they want to join the network. Another said that the reader will offer to add someone to the user’s Contacts if the QR code is aimed in that direction. There are also many other examples of what codes can be designed to do when they are scanned by a device.

The QR code scanner is set to “on” by default in the Camera app, but users can turn it off (or back on again) in the Settings app under “Camera.”

Why did Apple suddenly adopt QR codes?

Even if you’re not familiar with QR codes, you’ve probably seen them and not even realized it. Many companies include the odd-looking scrambled squares on their product packaging, and when you scan one using your device, they perform some sort of action, such as bringing up a website or sharing contact information. They’ve been around for decades, although in the U.S., they never became very popular, which may be why Apple decided it was never worth the effort to add native support for them.

However, the company is trying to reach consumers in China and throughout Asia, where QR codes are more widely used. TechCrunch feels that Apple’s sudden interest in the technology has arrived too late and that it will make very little difference that iOS 11 will support it.

In all likelihood, Alipay and WeChat users will keep using those apps to scan the QR codes to make payments, add contacts or download so-called “mini-programs” in WeChat. The same is probably true of users in other countries using other apps or services that support these codes. In reality, it’s hard to imagine what Apple may be thinking, other than that it now has to keep up with tech trends in Asia as well as in the U.S. The company tends to be late to the party with new technology anyway these days — although it tries to be fashionably late.