It seems that my wine guide is one of the first guide books to make extensive use of QR codes. What is a QR code? It is a bar code of sorts that looks like the illustration below.
When you scan a QR code with the bar code scanner app on your smart phone, it will provide you with more information like direct links to websites or maps right in the browser of your smart phone. The apps make use of your smart phone’s camera to scan the code. They can also be used for encoding contact information or other text. In Pour Me Another, I have used QR codes to provide direct links to maps to help my readers navigate Gold Country back roads and to provide direct links to winery websites.
But I forget that not everybody who uses a smart phone knows about QR codes or where to get a bar code scanner app. I use an Android based phone and use an app called, originally, Barcode Scanner. It was a free download from the Android Marketplace. There are apps designed for iPhones, too. Gizmodo has a great article about bar code scanner apps here. They review bar code scanner apps for Android and iPhone.
If you don’t have one of these handy-dandy apps on your smart phone, I highly recommend it. Not only does it make my book more useful for you, but it opens up a world of new information. It saves you from having to thumb-type information into your phone’s browser, saving time and eliminating backspacing to correct errors. Many merchants are offering coupons or special deals through these codes and even some public transportation agencies are using them to provide transit maps for specific bus lines.