Until only a few years ago, 2D bar codes didn’t really make it into the limelight. That has quite changed now and I use 2D bar codes on a daily basis. And some applications are actually quite unexpected.
One thing I find 2D bar codes incredibly useful for is installing software on new devices. In my line of work I flash the ROM of Android devices regularly and need to install a couple of apps afterward. As most devices now support automatic 2D bar code detection with the camera app, this has now become as easy as just pointing the camera to a 2D bar code that encodes the URL of a folder on a web server that holds the apk files. The camera app detects the bar code and suggests to open the browser with it. No need anymore to type-in lengthy or cryptic URLs to get to the apps quickly over the net or to connect the PC via USB, activate adb, etc. etc.
Especially these days I attend a lot of Internet based conference calls to which I am usually invited by email. Sometimes I want to attend the calls not on the network but with my smartphone on which I don’t have my business email and calendar. But I can easily convert the link to join a Webex, BBB or other conference call to a 2D bar code, for example with this browser plugin, and then just point the camera of my smartphone to it. When installing a conference app for the first time, most seem to register themselves as the recipient of URLs that contain a certain pattern. The camera app can then suggest to open this link not only in the browser but alternatively also in the conference app. Long story short, I can join the call on my mobile device by just generating the 2D bar code on my notebook and pointing my mobile towards it.
And a third application I have recently discovered for 2D bar codes is to send GPS coordinates of a meeting point. Osmand, for example, can generate a 2D bar code that encodes the GPS coordinates that can then be shared either directly via the screen, email, messenger or whatever. The bar code reading app (or camera app) then detects that it’s a GPS coordinate and offers to start Osmand, Google maps or other map applications. This use case is not quite as straight forward as the other ones as it requires the recipient to understand the process. But with a bit of explanation, it’s very useful as well. Want to give it a go? Point your mobile at the second bar code on the right, it should guide you to the Punta della Dogana, i.e. the tip of the Fondamenta Salute in Venice.