Free with in-app purchases; 6.49 per quarter; $19.99 annually
The best prices today: QR Factory
Tunabelly Software’s QR Factory generates unique QR codes from the values you input and can batch process data exported from a spreadsheet or database. With batch processing, you can create individual code files or PDF files formatted for commonly used adhesive label sheets and label printers. The app allows you to customize QR codes by including a logo in the center, modifying the color and border, adding a text label, adjusting the level of error correction (which increases or decreases the complexity of the code), and setting the resolution exit. That’s a lot of code generation power in one place.
The app fills a gap between the usefulness of QR codes and their generation. Back in 2009, I thought QR codes were the imminent future. Developed in 1994, these 2D codes seemed to be the perfect analog glue between smartphones and online resources, be they URLs, coupon codes, or information kiosks. Typing information seemed like a chore compared to a quick code scan. The first QR code scanning apps appeared that eliminated typing or touching. In Japan, QR codes became popular in 2005 with the early introduction of compatible network mobile phones in the country in the interest of advertisers.
But it was ahead of the market: It took until around 2017 for QR codes to become fully useful when Apple adopted automatic recognition within the iOS Camera app and enough Android phones offered the same feature. (Google was the first, but it took a while for adoption to build up.) From then on, you could point, tap, and open a link, add a calendar appointment, get a phone number to call, decode some text, or join a Wi-Fi network, among other things. Along the way, QR codes had become a primary way to share Google Play app links, Bitcoin payment addresses, and information from social networks and payment apps.
Although now in widespread use, it is still a pain to generate QR codes. Some apps and websites create them for you for a specific purpose; for example, Venmo will generate a Venmo QR code. To produce all the formats you might need, you need a standalone app, and QR Factory is that app. The company released version 3 in early May 2022, a major revision with new features and an iPad version covered by the same in-app purchase license.
For example, if you run a retail store, you may want to generate QR codes with a logo to join your store’s Wi-Fi network to place in obvious locations and generate other codes for flyers, receipts, or online links to a menu. or other information. For events, you can create tickets with a unique number or link embedded in the code that can be helpful to ticket takers. If you sell items by mail order or in person, you can create QR codes to attach to products to help distinguish similar items without having to examine a human-readable label.
The specification does not support adding an image in the middle of a QR code. Instead, because these codes incorporate error correction to compensate for problems in playback or camera resolution, you can remove some of them and they can still be interpreted correctly. QR Factory confirms that your additions to a QR code will not render it unusable by performing a verification test every time you make a change. The application warns you if it cannot verify the resulting code. The app could provide better help adjusting the size of a logo to match the block size of a QR code; it requires a lot of movement of the slider to make it look good aesthetically.
You can play with the more technical sliders and fields to produce thicker or denser code, designed for greater or lesser chances of perfect readability by a camera app or other scanner.
QR Factory allows you to create a separate document for each type of customization you want. So if you want to produce codes with a logo in the center, use a particular border and color scheme, and have a particular message at the bottom, you can set it up and save it. You don’t have to set this up every time or load presets, just open the correct QR Factory document.
When you’re satisfied with the appearance and verification of your code, you can copy it to the clipboard or export it to vector and bitmap formats. Codes can also be rotated as part of the export. QR Factory creates EPS, PDF, PNG and TIFF files. This includes choosing the color space (grayscale, RGB, or CMYK, depending on the format), useful for printed output if you’ve chosen to add color or gradations.
If you have a need or interest in producing quantities of QR codes, QR Factory’s multi-code feature will answer the call, but it does require a bit of study. Tunabelly Software has a documentation page on their site with formatting information and downloadable spreadsheets with examples to study to ensure you meet the entry requirements.
After successfully importing a CSV (comma separated values) file, a standard text export option from spreadsheets and other data management applications, you can optionally link to a folder containing the images specified in the file. The app allows you to generate individual QR code image files or PDF files in Avery (US letter and international A4) and Dymo formats.
The app allows unlimited generation of QR codes through a subscription to the Mac App Store at $6.99 for three months or $19.99 per year. Unlocking perpetual access costs $29.99. A single license covers both the Mac version of QR Factory and a similar app for iPad.
QR codes have settled in to provide the kind of connection I once thought they could have between the analog and digital worlds. QR Factory is the modern equivalent of the old embossed label maker and a Swiss army knife – the app is the only QR code tool you need to make it easy for people to find you, contact you, join a network, identify what you’re offering, or even pay you at a glance.
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