The use of QR codes has increased a lot in the last few months, despite having existed for more than a decade. A distant cousin of barcodes, indecipherable standards are capable of containing more information, usually links to websites or online documents. This became especially useful during the ongoing pandemic, where QR codes are used for almost everything, from menus to contact tracking forms. Fortunately, smartphone cameras have become more capable of handling these codes and Chrome OS will finally be updating itself.
In the distant past, you would need a separate application to be able to scan QR codes. Due to its novelty and rarity, most people did not have one pre-installed on their Android devices or iPhones. This frustrated the purpose of having a quick and convenient way to share a link, for example, without having to type or memorize the address.
Recently, standard camera applications on smartphones gained the ability to recognize QR codes, part of their computer vision updates that allowed these applications to detect objects and scenes. All users need to do is point their phones at a QR code and they will almost instantly receive a link to ring or text to read. This, unfortunately, is not yet available in the Chrome OS camera app, but Android Police has detected the start of such a feature in the latest development version of the platform.
Compared to what Android and iOS have, however, the functionality is almost too raw to be convenient. You still need to properly frame the QR code in a box overlay and the link it produces must be copied and pasted manually in a browser. In the long run, everything could be automatic and users would only need to tap a link to access it.
Perhaps the biggest question is how practical this feature would be on a Chrome OS device, most of which have only frontal webcams. Undoubtedly, it would be more useful on tablets or even 2-in-1 convertibles, but Chromebooks like these aren’t as many yet.