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QR codes offer quick, easy and often innovative means to encounter to new experiences on your phone and in the outside world.

The specially-created square barcodes have been around for a couple of years, but now they’re popping up everywhere, offering quick links to websites, nutritional information, GPS directions, movie trailers and more. Some pranksters are even printing custom stickers linking to the infamous Rickrolling internet meme.

Have you experimented with the QR (Quick Response) code reader on your Nokia Lumia Windows Phone handset? Unlike most handsets, you don’t need a standalone app and you can get there in just two taps. Just hit the Search key and then the eye icon and get scanning. Here are some of our favourite uses:

Install apps

If you’ve been browsing on your PC and laptop and see an app you’d love to have on your phone, there’s an easier way to get it than performing the same search on your handset. Quite often a QR code will appear on the page itself and scanning will take you straight to the product you’re looking for. We did it here with the Nokia Creative Studio photography app.

Check out before you rock out

We’ll quite often be walking around town and see flyers for local bands playing nearby. It’s only a couple of bucks, and it’ll probably be fun, but you don’t know these guys from Adam. What if they suck? The best band flyers have QR codes linking to a Spotify track or a YouTube video illustrating why they’re worth your time.

Using Bing to read codes

Eat Smart(er)

Everyone loves the occasional trip to restaurants like Chili’s or Friday’s, but you can’t breathe the air in those places without ingesting enough calories to satisfy a small nation. Luckily there’s a stack of restaurants adding QR Codes to their menus, linking to detailed nutritional information. Your arteries will thank you. (Yes, we get the irony, if we wanted to eat smart we wouldn’t go to Friday’s but we like it, OKAY?!)

Augment your experience

Museums around the world are integrating QR codes into their exhibits, allowing the visitor to hear the inside story on the artifact. Whether it’s simply a redirect to a WIkipedia page, an audio interview with the artist explaining the piece or fun trivia for younger viewers like at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, they’re a great way to add value to your visit.

Find your way

Tech likes to make it easier for us to get from A-to-B through navigation apps like Nokia Maps. If you’ve found a great restaurant online, see if it has a QR code on its ‘Find Us’ page. Scanning the code will launch your mapping app and programme it with directions.

Grabbing the best deals

With Foursquare check-ins rewarding you with discounts, Groupon and LivingSocial deals flooding your inbox there’s really no need to pay full price for anything again. QR codes are an even easier way to access coupons, discounts and deals that are redeemable in store. Keep an eye out.

Changing the game

Card games are older than Abraham, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t moving with the times. The Bicycle company just released new ’Jacked Up’ cards equipped with QR codes which, when they’re dealt and scanned, change the rules of games like this: 

Take it to the grave

Sometimes a gravestone just isn’t enough. The owner of a Seattle headstone store is incorporating QR codes into his offerings and for $75 he’ll help the bereaved to set up a memorial website which graveside visitors can view by scanning the sticker. You never know when your Nokia Lumia is going to come in handy.

Bonus content… everywhere

We’ve received Spotify ‘mix-tapes’ from friends via QR coded emails, we’ve scanned movie posters to view trailers, learned more about and picked up coupons for our favourite wines, and listened to exclusive tracks from our favourite artists; all on our Nokia Lumia smartphones. There’s a new world within these strange square boxes. Go and explore it.