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Guide to QR Codes

written by: Daniel Kolobaric•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 2/12/2015

QR Codes are a powerful tool for creating exposure for any Android application. As they sometimes seem to just mysteriously appear on the web, not everyone understands how they are created. Find out exactly how they are generated and how they can enhance app exposure.

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    Why QR Codes?

    QR codes are elegant and popular ways of storing a large amount of data in just one, scan-able, barcode. It is also a very popular way of linking to the Android Market, and most of the apps have QR codes linked to them. The barcodes are becoming increasingly popular, and as more and more camera equipped smartphones are able to scan them, they are becoming a powerful marketing tool. Although they are easy to access and use, many people are not aware that there is also an easy way of creating QR codes. Read on to find out how.

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    Free and Easy ways of Creating QR Codes

    Creating a QR code is no more difficult than using them. In fact, the popularity of the format is a result of the complete ease of use, and the variety in the format a QR can be created in is an important part of that. There are many free tools available for creating QR codes on the web, a few good examples being:

    • QR Code Generator by ZXing Project, with options for creating a wide variety of different QR Codes.
    • shopify: A free QR code generator that does not require an account to use.

    Whichever QR Code generator you use, a link to an Android Market app is essentially the same as linking to any URL. As such the URL-linking function of any particular QR code generator should be used for this purpose.

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    Creating Android Market QR Codes

    There are two varieties of links that can be made to the Android Market. By far the most popular is the option of creating direct links to apps. Even though there are a variety of QR creators available online, the process is the same for all. Android apps have a very particular link structure which enables them to send a user directly into the Android Market and directly to the intended application. The link sequence is as follows:

    market://search?q=pname:com.mydomain.myapp

    The last part of the sequence, here indicated as ‘com.mydomain.myapp’, has to be replaced with the package name of the application. There are a variety of ways of finding the package name of an app, and if you are the developer of an app, you will be the one determining it. The easiest manual way of finding a package domain is to look for a particular app on the cyrket or appbrain website. After searching for the app in question, check the link at the top, as the package name will be shown there. For example, for the lite version of the popular game ‘Angry Birds’ the link is as follows

    http://www.cyrket.com/p/android/com.rovio.angrybirds_lite/

    In the link, the highlighted part represents the package name. Using one of the before-mentioned QR code generators, a QR code can be created for the link

    market://search?q=pname:com.rovio.angrybirds_lite

    which will result in the following barcode:

    Example of Creating a Android App QR Code 

    Another way of linking to the Android Market is through initiating a market search with a QR Code. This is done with the following code line:

    Market://search?q=keyword

    In the above line the ‘keyword’ part has to be replaced with the actual search query. This way the QR code that will be generated will not point to a specific app but to a market search that might contain a list of apps. Although not often used, this may introduce some nice possibilities for linking to the Android Market.

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    QR Codes for All

    As the above procedure shows, creating a QR code is not a very hard thing to do. As QR codes are excellent ways to easily expose a new, popular, or any app for that matter, the rise of the format will beyond a doubt increase even further. Many Android developers have discovered the power of providing QR codes for their apps with an increase of app sales and downloads as a result. Knowing how to properly link to an app is therefore of vital importance. With the procedure as explained here, creating useful QR codes for Android apps has become a piece of cake.