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Your smartphone is full of surprises. There’s an app if you want to use your phone as a magnifying glass or scanner. Tap or click here for hidden apps on your smartphone and how to find them.

Third-party programs take up space on your phone, and many are redundant thanks to your phone’s built-in capabilities. Tap or click here for common apps you can delete right now.

Quick Response codes, better known as QR codes, are those pixelated squares you see in restaurants, advertisements, stores, food packaging, business cards, airline tickets — you name it. Some developers would lead you to believe you need to download their app to scan them. Spoiler: Your phone can do that with built-in features.

Follow the maze

QR codes were initially created to track automotive parts, but now they’re used for much more. 

Readers can scan this QR code to make a donation to the American Red Cross and join FOX Corporation's effort in providing relief following Hurricane Ian.

Readers can scan this QR code to make a donation to the American Red Cross and join FOX Corporation’s effort in providing relief following Hurricane Ian.
(FOX Corporation)

How many calories are in those fries? Where can you buy the outfit you see in an ad? How many miles can this car travel on a gallon of gas? A quick QR code scan can resolve all these questions and more. Think of this tech as a smart barcode.

QR codes existed long before smartphones, and your device can scan them right out of the box. Here’s how to use this helpful feature without third-party software.

Use your phone’s native capabilities to avoid malware

Third-party scanning apps are popular, making them prime delivery systems for malware. Hackers hide dangerous code in these helpful apps, which can steal your money, hijack your personal information, or even take over your device. 

RELATED: QR code app caught hiding malware – Check your phone!

How to scan a QR code with your iPhone’s Camera app

Your iPhone’s built-in Camera app can scan QR codes, and it’s as easy as taking a photo. Here’s how:

  • Open the Camera app and hold your iPhone, so the QR code appears in the viewfinder.
  • Your phone should recognize the QR code and give you a notification.
  • Tap the notification to open the link associated with the QR code.

How to scan a QR code with your Android phone

Your Android phone’s camera likely can scan QR codes without the use of a third-party app. Here’s how:

  • Open the Camera app and hold your Android phone so that the QR code appears in the viewfinder.
  • Your phone should recognize the QR code and give you a notification.
  • Tap the notification to open the link associated with the QR code.
  • If you aren’t notified, go to Settings and enable QR code scanning.
In this photo illustration an Android logo seen displayed on a smartphone. 

In this photo illustration an Android logo seen displayed on a smartphone. 
(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Use your Samsung’s Camera app

Samsung’s camera app comes with native support for QR code scanning. Here’s how:

  • Open the Camera app and hold your Samsung phone so the QR code appears in the viewfinder.
  • Your phone should recognize the QR code and give you a notification.
  • Tap the notification to open the link associated with the QR code.
  • If you aren’t notified, go to Settings and enable QR code scanning.

Use Google Lens

Google Lens started as a feature in Pixel phones but soon became standard in many Android phones. The tool is part of your camera app and can do many things, from identifying a dog breed to translating text. Here’s how to use it:

  • Open your Camera app and tap More > Google Lens.
  • Now you’ll have a Lens icon you can use whenever you open your camera, and it can scan QR codes.
  • You can also use Google Assistant to activate Google Lens. Say “OK Google,” then tap Google Lens at the bottom right.

Tap or click here to get even more out of Google Lens.

Use Bixby

Samsung’s virtual assistant can help you learn more about anything with a QR code. Here’s how:

  • Launch your camera app and tap Bixby Vision.
  • Then tap Allow to enable permissions. Enable all pop-up permissions.
  • Scan and tap Go to navigate to view the QR code content.

While convenient and entertaining, scanning a QR code can expose you to malware and scams. Tap or click here for tips on what to look out for.

A guest holds the new iPhone 14 at an Apple event at their headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 7, 2022.  

A guest holds the new iPhone 14 at an Apple event at their headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S. September 7, 2022.  
(REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Keep your tech-know going 

My popular podcast is called “Kim Komando Today.” It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers with tech questions like you from all over the country. Search for it wherever you get your podcasts. For your convenience, hit the link below for a recent episode.

PODCAST PICK: Sell your poop, no more Netflix sharing, delete these apps

Think before you flush. Your poop could be worth big money. (Yes, really.) Plus, Netflix wants you to stop sharing your account, Amazon Music offers Prime members expanded ad-free listening and why Uber is bombarding you with ads. Also, free alternatives to Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator that work just as well.

Check out my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name, “Komando.”

Get more tech know-how on The Kim Komando Show, broadcast on 425+ radio stations and available as a podcast. Sign up for Kim’s 5-minute free morning roundup for the latest security breaches and tech news. Need help? Drop your question for Kim here.

Copyright 2023, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved. By clicking the shopping links, you’re supporting my research. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. I only recommend products I believe in.

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