QR Codes — Very Underrated Simple Technology
I’m a huge fan of QR codes. I think QR codes right now are both hugely underrated and positioned to be used even more across technology. I think common usage of QR codes could really increase over the next few years.
Why I like QR Codes
Many people are not fans of QR codes. However, I think QR codes are simple, and do the job they need to do very well, and in certain particular, but very common use cases, are the best way I’ve seen to accomplish a task.
When do QR codes work well?
The particular situation is where you want to get some small bit of information but your device and the other person or device does not have a prior connection. It also reduces error in certain manual input scenarios. Also, QR codes are fast.
Think of a scenario where you scan a ticket at an airport, or where you pay with a credit card. The transaction of scanning a QR code is completed much faster than a credit card transaction.
Here are a few places I think QR codes work very well:
As many airport tickets go mobile, the way they are used is through a QR code. A QR code works effectively for an airline check in because it’s easily accessible on your phone and lets you check in fast.
Similarly QR codes work well for many types of tickets. More apps are incorporating them, but for any event, show, concert, a QR code is an easy way to show you have a ticket. It works well on a phone, or printed out, and the other party does not need fancy technology to accept it.
Connecting on a messaging or social app
There are a handful of messaging or social apps where using a QR code both increases speed and reduces error. You can do this on Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, WeChat, and Venmo, as an example. This lets you find someone who you are right next to without a prior connection and know the information is right. It’s much more robust than a search or username for several reasons. First, on a large network, a name search or username search could lead to a collision or an error. You may think you found the right person but actually found someone else. It’s also faster than searching for a username or name.
QR codes are becoming a de facto standard for sharing cryptocurrency addresses. This is because a long public key or address is very prone to error if you try to type it, read it, or copy it. A QR code lets you get this info right away in an in-person interaction, whether you are getting an address or sending a payment. I think if this workflow gets more common it will help people familiarize with cryptocurrency.
Two Factor Authentication
There are a number of two factor authentication apps, Google Authenticator in particular, which use a QR code to share the code to pair your device. Again, this is a great use case because it is fast, and passes a random piece of information from a device nearby to your phone without a prior connection.
Typing out URLs or sharing URLs are prone to errors. One character off can make you miss the link. If you are walking around and someone has printed out a piece of paper with a QR code they can easily send you to any URL. And that let’s you navigate there instantly from your phone.
I hope more people become familiar with QR codes and that the QR code workflow becomes more popular. I have a number of wish-list places where I think they could easily be incorporated but think at the moment people underrate them.