Soon, it might be easier to scan distant QR codes on your Android phone. A new code scanner that automatically locates a QR code in the camera’s field of view, zooms in, and reads it is being developed by Google. The capability is included in the most recent APIs Google is making available to developers, albeit it hasn’t exactly made it to devices just yet.
The new capability was added specifically to Google’s code scanner API. It functions in Google’s system app for scanning QR codes, but it can easily be added to other apps.
Users won’t need to grant camera access if developers utilize the code scanner API, which will free up developers’ time by preventing the need to create a unique user experience. In order to protect user privacy, the API only outputs a Barcode object to the app and uses Google’s on-device machine learning to decode QR codes. (While it’s unclear what precisely is going on behind the scenes, AI upscaling is a thing for various types of media.)
The new auto-zoom feature is accessible in the newly released bundled ML Kit Barcode Scanning API library version 17.2.0 that can be incorporated into apps (as well as in the unbundled version 18.3.0, which Google Play Services can download). This was mentioned by Android expert Mishaal Rahman. Version 16.1.0 of the code scanner API alone contains it as well.
Since their QR code scanner uses the same ML Kit Barcode Scanning library where this feature is being implemented, Rahman stated that it’s likely the easy QR code scanning feature might make its way onto smartphones running Android 13 or newer. According to a screen capture from X (formerly Twitter) user AssembleDebug, it may already be going out via GMS, the proprietary components of Android that Google licenses to specific manufacturers.
If the new function ever broadly launches, it’s unclear how effective it will be on Android handsets with subpar cameras or if it will be available on anything other than Google’s own Pixels. But the feature is kind of cool, and hopefully it appears in generally available devices and developer apps soon.