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Your Android phone could soon auto-zoom into QR codes for scanning

The feature will make life slightly more convenient, especially when setting up devices like TVs.

Published onAugust 4, 2023

Google Lens QR code scan 1
Hadlee Simons / Android Authority
  • Google updated APIs responsible for the barcode and QR code scanning to allow them to auto-zoom when a possible barcode or QR code is detected.
  • This feature could soon roll out to Android 13 and above smartphones with Google Play Services.

Android is considered a mature OS by now, but there is still room for plenty of improvement. We take a lot of features for granted these days, but some feature upgrades still manage to blow our minds. For instance, we’ve all used our phones for QR code scanning, but we always reposition ourselves to align correctly with the QR code, even if it means moving a few steps ahead. Google seems to have a solution in mind for this, as it could soon enable Android phones to auto-zoom into barcodes and QR codes when trying to scan them.

Android expert Mishaal Rahman spotted that Google had updated the APIs behind barcode scanning on Android with auto-zoom features, enabling the camera to automatically zoom in to scan barcodes and QR codes that are far away.

Google has updated ML Kit’s Barcode Scanning API and the Code Scanner API with auto-zoom, enabling the camera to automatically zoom in to scan barcodes that are far away. The scanner will intelligently detect barcodes and zoom in so the user doesn’t have to manually adjust zoom.
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 3, 2023

These APIs are used in apps that need to incorporate barcode scanning in some way and saves the app developers from needing to build the full feature from scratch. When apps use these updated APIs, they will automatically get the auto-zoom functionality for barcode scanning.

As Mishaal mentions further in his thread, the QR code scanner in Android 13 and above uses one of these APIs, so support for auto-zoom is expected to arrive soon to all Android 13 and above smartphones that use Google Play Services.

Twitter user AssembleDebug mentions that the auto-zoom flag is already present within Google Play Services. The feature is not enabled by default, as it is presumed to be in testing. But with the APIs now being updated publicly, we can hope to see the feature roll out very soon.

GMS have the auto-zoom flag present from last month afaik. It was not enabled because it was in testing maybe. With release of this feature publicly, Google already enabled it on GMS beta for me. So expect it to roll out soon. Flag to force enable? Check
— AssembleDebug (@AssembleDebug) August 4, 2023

In the attached video, we can see the auto-zoom feature working. Once the QR code scanner detects a possible QR code at a distance, it zooms in (presumably through the optical zoom hardware on the phone, like the telephoto or periscope zoom lenses). This saves you from the trouble of getting closer to the barcode to scan it. This would come in very handy when setting up devices like TVs, for instance.

Twitter user AssembleDebug also mentions a “Scan from photos” feature in the works, letting you scan barcodes and QR codes from saved images rather than mandate a scan from the camera. This feature is also hidden behind a flag for testing and could roll out in the future.

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