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QR codes: 200something-2011. RIP.

See that in the picture? That's called a QR code. You've probably seen them around, maybe in adverts or in magazines. They're stupid, and now they're dead.

Remember in the 1990s, when VCRs started coming with ultra-expensive remote controls that could scan barcodes? And the Radio Times started printing barcodes after all the programmes? You scanned the barcode, and it programmed your VCR to record it. At least, if you'd set the clock on your VCR, which we never had.

Anywho, they were rubbish and silly, and they didn't last long. Once someone realised you could include the same information in an easy-to-type VideoPlus code, that was it for barcodes in any context other than a supermarket. But nothing ever really dies, just gets reborn, and a few years ago some bright spark decided to bring back the barcode as the 'QR code'.

Not that they're exactly the same. QR codes don't need a dedicated scanner - just the camera on your phone, which can snap it and decode the pattern to come up with an instruction or web address. Slowly adverts and publications began printing them as a way of directing readers to a websites. Its biggest potential, though, was for check-ins: cafes and bars could put a QR code in the window, and a customer could snap it on their way in to check-in to the place on a service like Google Places.

But now it's over. QR has never really taken off, and Google this week effectively sounded its death knell by announcing they're removing support for QR codes from Google Places. Cafes and the like will no longer be able to put a QR code in the window to generate check-ins.

Why now? Because better tech is just around the corner. The next generation of mobiles look set to all include NFC, near-field-communication, the same tech that powers Oyster cards. Instead of taking a photo of a weird black-and-white blob on the wall, you'll just wave your phone at a sign to check in - or at an advert to visit the website, or whatever. Simples!

We won't be sad to see QR codes go, anymore than we were to see barcodes disappear from the Radio Times. What about you - will you miss them? Did you even ever notice they existed?

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