We’re used to seeing QR codes all around the internet and in the real world. They’re a useful tool, but if you’re using the Google camera app on Android 12, then they might be more dangerous than useful. The Google camera app is sending people to the wrong sites when they scan QR codes. Thankfully, the company is working on a solution.
The Camera app is changing the QR codes
As reported by Heise Online, when a person scans a QR code using a Pixel phone running Android 12, they wind up being sent to a different link. This happens when a person uses the Google camera app. While the link they’re sent to is similar to the original link, one character can mean the difference between a safe site and a dangerous one.
At first glance, it seems that the camera is just reading the QR codes wrong, but Heise Online looked into the issues. It found that the Google camera app reads the QR codes properly, but changes the link for some reason. One possible reason is that Google autocorrects links that it feels have typos in them. URLs often contain series of randomized characters, so the algorithm may be trying to form actual words out of them.
Another possible reason is in how Google tries to save space with URLs. When the camera scans a code, it might try to shorten the link. This makes for easier reading, but in the process, the app could be unintentionally changing the actual URL.
For the time being, we don’t have any definite causes for the problem. What’s good, however, is that Google acknowledges this issue and is working on a solution as we speak.
This puts a lot of people at risk
Don’t you hate the feeling when you type in a link wrong, and you see a torrent of different URLs flash in your address bar before settling on a site? That’s because there are a lot of shady websites out in the Wild West we call the internet. Google’s camera app sending people to the slightly changed links puts a ton of people at risk. Being tossed to the wrong link could open your system up for virus attacks or being hacked.
According to the reports, it seems that the QR code issue is only affecting the Google camera app. When you point your camera at a code, it activates the Lens AI technology to get the link. However, if you use the actual Google Lens app it works just fine. So, this issue is specific to just the Google app.