Cast your mind back a few years and you might find some small square barcodes in the depths of your memory. We’re talking, of course, about QR codes, which were plastered all over the place for a relatively short spell. However, they may be set to make a comeback. In this post, we discuss the unexpected return of QR codes.
The rise of QR codes
QR codes were initially designed to meet a growing need to track vehicles during manufacturing processes by scanning components quickly. Technology companies then took that idea and applied it to the web industry, with the goal of providing users with fast information. They took off quickly, with many businesses and event companies using them as a way of attracting a wider audience.
At one point, the tiny squares were featured on bus stops, product packaging, shops and posters. They encouraged smartphone users to scan the barcode and be directed to a specific web page. But what happened to QR codes? It seems one minute they were all the rage and the next they were gone.
And the fall…
In truth, the whole QR code concept was ahead of its time. User-friendly and responsive websites hadn’t taken off, so viewing a site on your smartphone was difficult and frustrating. This, amongst other issues, led to the downfall of the QR code. Many users would simply abandon the web page out of frustration and eventually began ignoring the codes all together.
Until recently, QR codes were placed firmly in the past and all but forgotten about. That all changed when Apple released a camera update on the iPhone, including a QR code reader and other smartphone companies followed suit. Now, QR codes are back on the map, but are they here to stay or should they be left in the past?
Making a comeback
While smartphones are much more advanced today, a number of users still struggle with the small touch screen and find it difficult to type long URLs. That’s where the QR code comes in – again. Instead of typing out complex URLs, you can simply scan a barcode using your smartphone camera and be taken straight to the necessary web page. A number of businesses are now starting to successfully roll out the use of QR codes, including:
The Chinese mobile app, WeChat has a variety of functions to make everyday life easier, such as paying bills, ordering goods and transferring money to other users. One of the key unique features of the app is the ability to scan QR codes in stores, key in the amount they are spending and purchase products.
Social media apps are now starting to actively feature QR codes and scanning capabilities on their app to ease the sharing of contacts. The Twitter app, for instance, has its own QR code generator and reader, allowing users to generate individual codes and scan others’ codes to easily follow each other without any hassle.
One of the initial problems with QR codes was unfamiliarity. Users simply didn’t know what the code was, what to do with it or what business it was for. To combat this issue, Spotify, amongst others, evolved their QR codes so that they’re more reflective of their brand. Their code features soundwaves, letting the user know what app they need to use to scan these codes.
Here to stay?
As technology continues to advance, it’s no surprise that we are continuing to find new ways to make life easier. QR codes aim to do just that, so we may be seeing a lot more of them.
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