QR Codes are Making a Comeback with iOS 11

QR codes illustrated all over a cityscape

Bringing Back QR Codes

Since Apple’s announcements of its latest product releases, companies and consumers alike have been excited about iOS 11 and made various assumptions about how the new operating system will impact users. What we didn’t expect was for iOS 11 to bring back QR codes, this time as a native feature.

If you were interested in the digital scene back in 2011, you may remember QR codes as the 2D black-and-white square sequence of dots that almost became a way for mobile users to interact with their physical worlds. But it wasn’t easy to interact with the QR codes, because each code required a user to download a separate, third-party app that could translate the info from the QR code into the information the user was intended to see. Because of this, QR codes lost their momentum in the United States around 2013. In the Asian market however, QR codes have become a big part of everyday life. Users in China interact with QR codes in a variety of situations every day , from gift registries to job hunting or keeping track of their beloved pets.

Now that it’s 2017, Apple is taking advantage of the opportunities that iOS 11 may provide for their users since they made the possibility of scanning QR codes a native feature.  Taking a cue from Asian consumers, Apple found a simple way to encourage their users to interact with their physical worlds via software.

iOS 11 is Reconnecting Mobile Users to Their Physical Worlds

With the iOS 11 update, users won’t need to download a third-party app to access the content behind a QR code. All you have to do is open their Camera app and if a QR code is visible a notification bar at the top of the screen will kick off the intended action. What’s more is that QR codes themselves are easy to create because they don’t require any programming and any individual or company can incorporate them into their marketing strategies. In the Asian markets, many consumers are interacting with QR codes via WeChat and other third-party apps. Now that Apple has made QR codes accessible in iOS 11, they expect that consumers will find it easier to engage consumers and to create market demand with a simple go-to tool for companies to engage with their users in their everyday lives.

QR Codes can Engage App Users in a Variety of Ways

One of the basic ways that QR codes allow companies to engage with their users is with various forms of messaging, such as prompting phone calls, text messages, and emails. Say that a person is walking past a coffee shop and sees a QR code on a poster for a band they like. If they scan the QR code, it could do a variety of things, like prompt the user to call a number to book tickets to the next show. If a user received a wedding invitation in the mail with a QR code, scanning it could prompt the user to send an email or text message to the designated organizer with their RSVP details.

Another way that QR codes will be a game changer is with WiFi connections. Imagine no longer having to suffer through the interaction of reading someone your lengthy WiFi password. Using a QR code, a user can scan the code and seamlessly be connected to the internet.

gif showing QR Code prompting user to sign in to the Raizlabs WiFi

Raizlabs utilizes QR codes to make signing into the WiFi network easier for visitors.

Whether it’s having a QR code in guest rooms of hotels, in the lobby on businesses, or even in the family living room, allowing for easier access to WiFi will greatly reduce frustrations in overall usability. QR codes will change the marketing strategies of companies across many industries. Here are a few ways that you can expect to see QR codes engaging users:

Retail and eCommerce

Retailers will have new opportunities to engage with their customers. Coupons that used to get lost in thrown away receipts can now be scanned with a QR code at checkout. Loyalty programs will also gain momentum with the use of QR codes, allowing customers to scan QR codes when they enter a store to earn points; they could also see specific ads for a product and scan the code which prompts them to a URL with a specific sale.

Advertisers, in particular, should be excited by QR codes for their ability to use them to track customers. While the QR codes can’t have a specific code for each individual, they can contain identifying data embedded in the code, and that data can be extremely helpful in helping advertisers market different segments of their audience.

Events and Entertainment

Companies that specialize in events and entertainment will be happy to know that they have new ways to track how their customers are engaging with their audiences. Imagine theme parks being able to place QR codes at different locations in their theme parks and allowing users to see their exact location on their phone or check in so they won’t have to wait in line. Concert goers will be able to scan a code to buy a band’s merchandise in their online store.

Healthcare and Medical

The healthcare and medical spaces are consistently utilizing emerging technologies, like virtual reality and augmented reality to train their clinicians on best practices and procedures. Incorporating QR codes would be a great way to enhance learning in the medical community. Imagine if, while a medical school student was reading about a particular procedure in a textbook, they could scan a QR code to watch a video of how the procedure is done and to see updated techniques.

QR codes will bring benefits to patients as well. Imagine if you were a patient and your doctor’s office gave you a business code with a QR code that when scanned, gives you access to the sign-in page of a patient portal so you can see test results and message your physician directly.  

Professional Services and Utilities

Many cities and towns are looking for ways to better engage with their communities and QR codes are opening up opportunities for higher citizen engagement. Now while taking a tour of a community, people can scan a QR code at different locations to learn more about a specific part of history. Perhaps specific companies will even partner with cities to create a game-based badge system that motivates participants to scan QR codes and then receive a reward.

QR Codes will Drastically Improve User Engagement

The examples in this article are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the world that QR codes will open up for both companies and the customers they serve. iOS 11 and its quick access to QR codes is making it easier for users to bring their digital worlds and physical environments together again. While digital advancements over the last decade have brought a lot of interaction into the digital sphere, QR codes are an exciting way for users to remain in touch with their environments while incorporating technology. If what we’ve witnessed in the Asian market is any indication for how QR codes can engage mobile users, then we can expect to see them popping up in several different environments soon.If you’re interested to learn how QR codes can be incorporated into an integrated mobile marketing strategy for your team, get in touch!

Do you have a project in mind? We’d love to work with you. If you’d like an opportunity to work on projects with us, check out our Careers page. We’re hiring!