QR Coder 2010 is a much needed add-in allows you to generate QR codes directly from Outlook with a couple of clicks. No need to cut and paste your information into a webpage, it can extract all your details without you needing to hit the keyboard.
Simply download from here and install:
(Note that it requires .NET 4.0 and insists on installing it – even if you already have it installed on your PC. It also requires an internet connection as it uses google to generate the QR Code)
Now, when you view a contact card, you have a new button under the add-ins menu (and it is only active when the contact card is open, not just selected)
Clicking it brings up a rather cryptic dialogue box. Basically, if you choose ‘yes’, it will use the Business address. If you choose ‘No’, it will choose the Home a address instead (unless the Home address is blank, then it will use the Business address).
After you make your selection, the QR Code appears, with the option to paste to the clipboard, or to save as a file (bmp/gif/jpg/png)
One important factor to be aware of is that it saves the contacts in the MECARD format, which as discussed elsewhere, can only hold an abbreviated version of a .vcf – the sort of details that you would get from a paper business card, or that you are likely to need for your smartphone.
The software has a version 1.0 feel to it – it could definitely be a little slicker – the only way to see what information is actually in the generated QR Code is to decode it with your phone, or a PC-based decoder, or uploading it to a website-based decoder – none of which are ideal. Still, as it is free for personal use (and only USD2.00 for business), it seems a bit petty to complain.
Codee Software announced the release of a first of its kind QR code product for consumers. Codee Interactive adds a new dimension to the exciting world of Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other popular web sites by providing physical links to the web via scannable QR codes owned by the consumer.
Signing up (and paying USD29.95 per year), gives the user a customisable landing page, with the usual links to Twitter, Facebook etc. It also allows the user to chose an automatic action for the scanner – running a YouTube video, ‘Liking’ a facebook or even dialling a phone number or sending an SMS text. The range of options and customisability sets it apart from other options.
This wins a ‘why isn’t anyone else doing this’ award, as after paying your subscription, you will receive 47 vinyl stickers with your Codee QR Code on them. This is a very clever idea – after all, what is the point of having your own QR Code to share with others, if it is a hassle to share the code? Instead of the having to print out your QR Code (always more fiddly than it should be), then cut them to size, then work out how to make them adhesive and then apply some protective lamination, you can simply peel and stick.
The Codee website is fun and ‘cool’ and will appeal to the type of person that would most likely use this type of service.
With what must be a contender for most marketing speak in a single press release, Mercatus announces their QR Code enabled mobile apps:
Mobile technology revolutionizes the retail industry by changing how and when consumers interact with brands. With Concierge for Mobile, retailers enable customers to leverage the brand’s interactive mobile app to quickly and conveniently sign up for a loyalty account to manage their shopping list, digital coupons, promotions, and more. And now with the addition of NFC and QR code technologies, retailers put their customers in control and satisfy their desire for immediate information about their products.
Which basically means that customers at a shop can scan a QR Code and download a mobile loyalty app for their phone. What the app actually offers the users, depends on the implemation chosen by that particular shop – a half-assed effort is going to quickly get deleted, but something that offers real benefits to the user could be of great interest. Of course, this all falls down if the enrolement process is much more complicated than scanning the QR Code – I certainly can’t be bothered to enter all my personal information into an app, whilst trying to shop.
Here we have a treat: a very-well written app for scanning QR Codes on an Android phone that really gives the impression that the developer spent a lot of time on it. It’s free with ads, or a donation will remove them.
The app icon will take you to the menu screen, but, showing thought, the software lets you create an icon that will take you straight to the scanner and get scanning quickly.
If the app recognises a QR Code, it will decode it automatically. Note that you can turn on your camera flash (if you have one) as a lightsource for scanning in low light with the button in the top right. If you change your mind and want to generate a QR Code instead, you can press the button in the top left. This shows the thought that has gone into the usability of the software as it is easy to switch between modes without having to navigate a lot of menus. Decoding time is pretty much standard at about 1 second for a scan.
A bonus with the newest version is that (on most devices), pressing your ‘search’ key can be defined to launch the scanning mode. If you scan a lot of QR Codes, this is very fast as you don’t even need to touch your screen.
Using the (very pretty) menu screen, you can also decode from an image on the phone, an image URL and a surprisingly useful ‘History’ open that lists your previous scan/generations, with the option to regenerate the QR Code, or the decoded information. Very useful indeed as it you may find yourself trying to remember what you scanned earlier that day.
Generating a contact will take you to a pretty list of all your contacts. Slightly disappointingly, it does not use the contacts ‘group’ abilities and so lists all your contacts in a long list. The better option in this case is to select the contact using your phone’s ‘Contacts’ and use the context menu to select QR Droid there. If you do use the app, at least you have a search box for the contact’s name (but only the name, not company name or address) or simply flick down and scroll though them all.
A very well thought-out ability is to choose what fields you want to include in the QR Code: when I share a contact’s details with someone, there is a good chance that I don’t want to give all the information that I might have on them (e.g. their private phone number, or email or home address). You can choose to remove entire fields and all the data is editable. note the not particularly works-safe ads
The generator is also both powerful and simple: by default is creates a large QR Code on screen with the option to share or save it. If you want to customise it, simple buttons let you choose from a range of pixel sizes and foreground colours- the colour picker is a little fiddle and unresponsive, but it will remember your choice for next time.
Oddly, it also gives you the option to add a thumbnailed image from your phone in the centre of the QR Code. You cannot choose the position or size of the picture as these are fixed. At first, I was dubious as to its use – I can’t say that this is hugely attractive, but after a few plays I grew to like this feature as it allows you to tag your QR Codes to make them more recognisable to your eye. You’d really need to add some simple icons to your phone to make the best use of this feature(perhaps the developer could throw in some samples in the future?)
Creating a geolocation QR Code from a Google Maps location from the menu isn’t particularly useful, since it works from a location from an URL and most people will be using the Google Maps app instead – however using the shortcut from within the Google Maps app is simplicity itself. You can also enter in Lat/long manually:
Generating codes is also a well-thought out process with menu options for Contact, URL, Application, Phone Number, Calendar Event, Plain Text, Geolocation, SMS QR Code generation
The ads aren’t too little intrusive as they pop up at the top of some of the screen, but a donation payment will remove them for you. The recommended amount is USD2.50, but you can choose from USD1.50 – USD10.00 and really it is worth it to support the excellent work by the developers.
For those of you who are really concerned for your privacy, they have a ‘private’ version that does not have access to your contacts or browsing history. You can still create QR Codes of these types- you’ll just have to enter all the information by hand. Probably not really using this version unless you have a tinfoil hat in your wardrobe.
In conclusion: This is the app to get. No question about it.
Official Website: qrdroid.com
The most common software that you will find recommended for scanning QR Codes with your Android phone is Barcode Scanner. It was on the market early, it’s free and it is easy to use.
But is it the best?
The short answer is ‘perhaps not’. However, If you want something that will simply scan QR Codes and let you generate them, then it works fine and should be near the top of your list.
To use it is very simple: press the application icon and it takes you straight to a camera screen. Wave a QR Code in front of it and after about a second, it scans it and brings up a preview screen, showing the contents of the QR Code. You then have the option of opening up the link in the browser, or sharing the contents (ignore the brown streaks, the screenshot software put them in)
Notice that it is in landscape format. There’s no way to change that and it is a bit annoying as the buttons are inconveniently place if you are only using one hand. you need a very long right thumb to hit the ‘Settings’ button:
You can share a bookmark or a contact card via the menu in the application, or by hitting ‘share’ when you are viewing the contact itself and selecting ‘Barcode Scanner’ as your choice.
Here is a barcode generated for sharing the Barcode Scanner app (you can use this to download from the Android market if you wish)
Here is a contact card. It creates a card in the MECARD format, which includes name, email address, all the telephone numbers, address and website. However, all 4 numbers (home, office, mobile, fax) are just listed as ‘telephone’ – which may be a bit confusing.
Simple, small, free
Handles the basics
A bit basic. You can have it beep and/or vibrate on a successful scan, but you can’t change the sound from anything other than the supermarket-style BEEP!
You cannot edit the barcode details before it is generated
Sharing a contact from within the app only allows you to select contacts that you have stored in Google Mail. If they aren’t syncd there, then they are not visible. However, you can select them by going through the Contacts menu and sharing them from there.
The interface is a little dull.
Conclusion. If you only want to read and generate QR Codes occasionally, this is perfectly fine for you. It will do 90% of what anyone would want to do without fuss or excitement
So, hopefully I have given you some interest in playing with QR Codes. The good news is that is is very, very easy to create one and there are many online tools that are both free and simple to use.
Here are a few recommendations to try:
This is about as simple as it could possibly be: type in some text, press the button and you have a QR Code. That’s it. No more, no less.
A highly recommended site that is simple to use, yet with lots of powerful options that are easy to change and to test, including different sizes, colours, encoding, error correction, margins. Supports text, URL, tel no, SMS, vCard formats. Text barcodes can be up to a whopping 2,800 characters long.
This one has an insane number of features, yet is easy to use. As well as all the usual formats, you can encode virtually anything you can think of: Google Map locations, Bing locations, Android Wifi Network info, Android Market items, Youtube URLs, Tweets, Blackberry Messenger user, etc, etc. Colours, sizes, error correction are all customizable. 2,800 character limit on free text. Worth playing with, just to blow your mind as to the range of things that you can do with QR Codes.
Something a bit different: a simple site that lets you create a barcode in almost all of the popular symbologies. Very easy to use and a good way to see the different variations available.