COVID-19 has changed the way we do things immensely. One thing that is now part of our every day life is signing into places we visit using a QR code. Signing in is important as it allows COVID-19 contact tracers be able to track down any close contacts should that be required at that location.

Unfortunately many users of Android phones will know the hassle it is to sign in with their Android phone given that very few — mostly only Google Pixels and newer Samsung phones — will have a camera that reads QR codes. This presents a problem when trying to sign in using the QR code at your local restaurant.

Although there are many different QR code readers / scanners on the Play Store the best solution we have found in our travels is to use Google Lens — and it does so much more than read QR codes, which is probably why it hit 500 million installs on the Play Store overnight.

How can I read a QR code with Google Lens?

First off, you will need to install Google Lens onto your phone. Some phones will come with it already installed but if it is not you will need to of course install it from the Play Store.

Once you have it installed set it as an easy-to-find shortcut on your phone — I added a shortcut to it in the Smart Sidebar of my OPPO Find X2 Pro. Then as soon as I enter a new location — such as a local restaurant, the MCG etc — I just open Google Lens, point the camera at the QR code and tap on the link that automatically pops up.

You will then be sent to the COVID-19 sign in page to enter your details. Please enter your correct details as accurate contract tracing is one of the tools that helps to keep the pandemic at bay here in Australia.

So what else can it do?

Google Lens is like Google everything with a camera rolled into a single app:

  • It can translate text that it sees in the camera window — automatically.
  • It can find items online — for example you see a pair of shoes someone has and want to find out what they are and where you can buy them, just take a photo of it with Google Lens.
  • It can help work out maths equations and other such things from a page of text — don’t tell my kids.
  • It can identify items in the camera window and name them for you — for example plants, animals and more.
  • It can also be used on images that you have taken with your camera previously, just load the image into Google Lens and tell it what you want it to do.

Personally I have used Google Lens for many things, including translating menus at an Italian restaurant, and to find where I can buy certain things I may see online — take a screenshot or save the image of what you want to buy, load the screenshot into Google Lens and it will find it online for you.

Google Lens is available not just on Android but also on iOS but is part of the overall Google app on iOS rather than a standalone app.

If you have been having issues signing into locations using QR codes head on over the App Store or Play Store and grab Google Lens, or even if you want to try out some of its other features, you won’t be sorry. Surely 500 million users cannot be wrong?