Occasionally an iOS secret pops up that makes me wonder, “How do I learn about this?” I remember the first time I figured out how to delete numbers in the Calculator app, and when I discovered that you could move apps around the Home screen. Now there’s another tip to add to the list: a hidden iOS app whose icon you literally can’t find, unless you know where to look.
You will not find this app on the home screen, nor in the app library. It does not make much sense at first since the App library is assumed to have every app on iPhone. After all, it even houses bookmarks you create in Safari and shortcuts. So how can there be an app that does not appear on the home screen and app library that you can still open and use like everyone else?
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Apple professionals may already know about Code Scanner from their opt-in Control Center tiles. It does not appear in the Control Center by default, so you must add it manually if you want quick access to code scanning.
However, many people do not even use Code Scanner in Control Center, which is because the primary code scanning functionality is already built into the Camera app. While they effectively work the same, there are some differences, mainly that the codes you scan in Code Scanner open in a browser in the app instead of Safari.
Things are even more confusing when you realize that Apple called the Code Scanner app by a different name in earlier iOS versions. On iOS 13 it was “QR Code Reader”, and on iOS 12 it was “Scan QR Code.” Apple probably went away from having “QR” in the name, since it can also scan App Clip Codes, which can launch thumbnail versions of apps called “App Clips.”
Interestingly, if you dive into an iOS recovery image on your computer, you will not find “Code Scanner” listed in the list of iOS applications. Instead, you see “BarcodeScanner.” Apple is full of surprises.
Regardless of the name, when you close Close Scanner, you lose access to scanned pages, as the app cannot remember or save your history. So it is better to use the app when you do not need to refer to the code again later.
Code Scanner is currently the only app on iOS that we know of. There are other “apps” throughout iOS that do not have a space on the home screen or the App Library by default, and once such an app is Magnifier. It can be added on the home screen and in the app library, but only after you have unlocked the feature (before iOS 14 there was no magnification app at all).
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