Long-distance QR code scanning is coming soon to Android phones

Scanning a distant QR code can be a frustrating experience, but a major Google upgrade could soon change that.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
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A big-time Google upgrade could put an end to the struggle of scanning a QR code from a long way away. Whether it's across the room on a wall or across the highway on a billboard, a new scanner application currently in the works from Google would automatically detect a QR code in a camera frame, zoom in, and read the code.

Currently, scanning a code from a distance involves manually zooming in on and centering the code into the scanner's sweet spot. And if it's magnified so much it becomes blurry, the code can't be read. Google's new scanner would quickly identify codes, even small ones, and automatically zoom in so the scanner can detect what it needs to -- making the whole process quicker and more efficient.

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The code scanner is a part of the ML Kit's Barcode Scanning API, which uses advanced AI algorithms to detect barcodes and QR codes in the camera's field of view.

Although the feature isn't available to the public yet, it was included in the latest application build for developers, which means it's probably not far off. It's expected to work in both Google's own QR Code Scanner and in other apps. Because this is an API-level upgrade, app developers won't have to grant any new camera permissions for the tool to work. 

How will the upgraded scanning feature will be deployed on phones with lower-quality cameras that aren't able to magnify as well as others? It's possible this tool will be exclusive to Google Pixel phones, all of which have sufficiently powerful cameras. Or, it's possible the option can be toggled on or off depending on the quality of your camera's zoom.

Whether other phones receive the upgrade or not, the code scanner is expected to be released soon, and devices running Android 13 or higher should be the first to experience it. 

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