Probably the best QR code scanner comes from a university

Probably the best QR code scanner comes from a university

The author’s experiments have come to an end. Probably the best and most reasonable QR code scanner app for Android at the moment has been found. […]

For a small workflow project, I was looking for a really good QR code scanner for Android. I was about to give up when I finally found what I was looking for. My requirements were actually not particularly high:

  • As far as possible no advertising
  • Privacy-friendly
  • Various possibilities to share/further process the scan result
  • History with editing options
  • Ideally for free
  • Open Source
  • Reliable scans
  • Link Preview
  • Current, well-maintained version
  • Preferably in German

The problems of other apps are manifold: The QR code scanner in web browsers such as Firefox or Chrome does only one thing: read URLs from QR codes and open them or search for them via browser. This also applies to Google Lens, which is probably present on most Android devices. It is also not possible with it to copy or otherwise share what has been read, e.g. in a messenger.
The QR code scanner from ZXing, which I used and recommended earlier, has not been further developed for a long time and no longer works under Android 11, at least on my device (the scanning area has almost slipped over the edge of the display). For others, on the other hand, I have already refrained from installing it from the outset, since the data protection situation was unclear.
QR codes can also be found on invoices that you don’t want the data to flow anywhere. That’s why I don’t want any advertising in these apps, because advertising is often associated with tracking.

My recommendation is currently: On Android, take the QR Scanner (Privacy Friendly) from the Secuso Research Group. Secuso stands for “Security, Usability, Society”; the research group belongs to the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

After installation, a short tutorial on three screens welcomes you; it can also be skipped. Otherwise, the app looks like any other QR code scanner at first glance; apart from the fact that you don’t see any advertising. At the top left you will find a hamburger menu (with three dashes). Here you can see that it is not only a scanner, but also a QR code generator. You will also find the history and settings here.

For example, scan a QR code that contains a link. In this case, a dialog will appear that shows you in bold type which domain the link leads to. This will help you decide whether you want to open the link or not. If you really want to visit the link, check the box and tap Open.
Unlike in some other QR code readers, you will find two symbols in the upper right corner, see below in the left picture. About the first you could share the link directly. The usual options on an Android device are available to you; if you scroll down, you will find Mail, SMS and more in addition to Twitter and your favorite messengers (see the right picture). The second icon at the top right allows copying the scanned content.

Let’s move on to the other features and settings. Open the settings via the hamburger menu in the upper left corner. If you want to use the history, activate it here (more about that in a moment). You also decide whether you want to see a search button for a web search and which is your preferred search engine. If the confirmation tone should interfere, it can be turned off here, see the left picture below.
The course is a useful thing. The contents of all scanned codes are listed here, see the middle picture. If you want to delete a single one, tap on it a little longer, then tap Delete. Maybe there is something in the entries in the course that you want to edit or share further. If you tap on the desired entry, it will open as it presented itself immediately after scanning.
So you have the two symbols for share or copy in the upper right again. If it is a contact, for example, call up a dialog via Continue to save it in your contacts. If the course is to be completely gone, a brave tipster reaches for the trash at the top right. Confirm the deletion in the query dialog. I have not tried the included QR code generator. In the picture on the right you can see which formats the app supports. However, you have to type in the data for the QR code to be generated yourself; for example, it is not possible to select a contact from the address book in the case of e-mail or vCard.

Conclusion: In my opinion, this QR code scanner meets all the requirements in the daily handling of the increasingly common QR codes. The QR scanner maintains privacy and is still very easy to use.
There are other apps from the Secuso Research Group, incl. a minesweeper game.

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