Shortcut to Bing Vision makes it easier to scan QR codes again in Windows Phone 8.1

While the vast majority of changes to Windows Phone 8.1 have been a welcome gust of fresh air to our phones, there are some things that take getting used to. The fact that Cortana doesn’t have Bing Vision may be chalked up to it being in ‘beta’, although we hope Microsoft at some point brings the feature back to search. The Bing service is used by many people on this site for scanning our app QR codes at the end of articles, so not having it readily available is a turnoff.

We’ve already touched upon how to get QR and barcode scanning back easily in 8.1, and as it turns out, Bing Vision is still there but under the Camera Lenses. It works, but it’s a multi-step process to get to it.

Now, DreamTeam Mobile has released a free, shortcut app that streamlines things a bit. Called ‘QR for Cortana’, the app only creates a Start Tile that hops directly to Camera Lenses. From there, you can quickly choose Bing Vision and start scanning away. It’s a bit of a kludge, but it works. Plus, it’s free for those of you who really prefer Bing Vision.

Bonus: Tell Cortana “Cortana, open QR” to voice-launch the app.

Pick up QR for Cortana here in the Store. Windows 8.0 and 8.1 supported.

Source: DreamTeam Blog

QR: QR for Cortana

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • Outside of WP Central, people use QR codes?
  • Yup, me
  • What do you scan outside WP central?
  • Gas station, stores the paper!
  • Theres lots of ways to use QR code and wpcentral isnt only blog/site in the whole world.. get a life
  • Lol, wow relax dude.
  • Chillax, it's called fishing for use cases.  Not everyone who comments is snarking.
  • the browser crashed and I refused to rewrite the message, Enjoy. :D
  • It will also scan printed text and translate said text in camera. It's pretty cool, actually.
  • Bus stops.
  • Scanning a book cover is slicker than grease, also.
  • On the rare occasion I go to blockbuster, they now have QR codes on all the covers in store. Scan it and it shows you the movie trailer on your phone.
  • Blockbuster!? You still have one?
  • As per my experience, search button opens same old Bing page if location is turned off. Cortana is launched from search button only if location services are turned on...
  • Wow I just tried that too but it doesn't offer the panoramic swipe features it used to have. I don't know why they got rid of it.
  • I occasionally use Bing Vision for QR codes (I often see them used on advertisments/fliers), but more frequently for bar codes and book/album covers. 
  • Sometimes... While browsing the web on my computer... I'll come across a picture I like... Click on the QR extension on chrome and it'll generate the QR... Scan it and save the picture to my phone...
  • That's a pretty cool use case
  • Doing the same with YouTube videos i want to share via whatsapp. Scan, copy, paste, done!
  • Will have to try this later as I also use chrome on my laptop.
  • It actually doesn't launch Bing Vision just opens up lenses and then you have to select Bing Vision
  • Exactly. Not as it's advertised. Just get me to Bing Vision from a single icon. Now if I could go to Lenses and then pin lenses to my start screen, that would be the tits.
  • "Called ‘QR for Cortana’, the app only creates a Start Tile that hops directly to Camera Lenses. From there, you can quickly choose Bing Vision and start scanning away."   That sounds like what they said...
  • I was reffering to the name of the app itself; ‘QR for Cortana’.
  • R.I.F...
  • LOL! Seriously
  • All the time. It does more than QR scanning. Bar codes and Microsft Tags (RIP).
  • I do and I have loved the quick, built-in access to the QR reader.  Friends were always impressed. I want to see this added to Cortana just like Bing Music is. BTW - Bing Music appears to be faster with Cortana
  • It does more than QR codes. I use it for pulling book reviews up when I'm at the bookstore with the cover image or bar code.
  • I had an issue yesterday where I was trying to get it back. Almost decided to disable Cortana. But downloaded a QR scanner to use. This helps ! Thanks for pointing the App out Daniel. Much appreciated!
  • All you had to do is disable GPS and there you go... No Cortana, yes qr reader, just pres the search button
  • Hopefully they add it to Cortana like the music icon
  • I hope they add Bing rewards! iOS and Android get it but we don't!!!!
  • They will, there are traces of Bing rewards in the preview right now
  • Where and which ones?
  • What about the music search functionality? I used it a lot. Is it still there?
  • Yes.
  • Yes, it's there. 
  • Alternatively, I just found out that you can simply ask Cortana, "what song is this?" and it'll go straight in to the listening/search. It's not terribly more convenient than just hitting the icon, but it is helpful when you're driving, or something (it can be done while the phone is still locked). 
  • I heard Xbox music is still hidden in the Os, someone just needs to make a shortcut
  • Umm xbox music is the default music app actually, And it appears that everyone hates it.
  • He means the old player from 8.0. It's hidden in the OS
  • I wouldn't doubt that!! I was thinking of that the other day. I guess just like the ol' good Bing search is hidden if you have Cortana enabled.
  • If you use NFC to connect to the JBL PowerUp speaker it brings up the old app
  • Turn off location and pressing the search button will open Bing instead of Cortana.
  • I'm not sure how giving up Cortana by changing your device settings is easier or better than this method. Please explain.
  • when you turn off locaton and hit the search button bing search opens up and bing vision is at the bottom like it has always been.
  • I totally get that. That was not my question. How or why is that better than this method outlined here. To rephrase, why would I give up Cortana to scan a QR code? And how is disabling/enabling Cortana each time via regional settings easier than downloading this free app?
  • cuz u'll not need to install anything if u use this way.. why we need to install it when we already have way to do?
  • Touché. Free and two steps. Kids. Lazy nowadays. Damn technology. Love it and hate it.
  • I don't think you have to enable or disable Cortana, just put the Locaiton services toggle in your action center.
  • I don't use Cortana much often so it is not a big problem. I live in Vietnam and Cortana is not really helpful. Just a method in case you don't want to go to the home screen and can't talk to Cortana, ie in a meeting or in a noisy crowd.
  • If you live in Vietnam, you don't have Cortana on by default anyway. So you're basically undoing a hack that you had to go out of your way to enable. I mean, I get it, but it's just odd. This post is more or less for those in the US who have Cortana on by default and don't have Bing Vision direct any longer.
  • Actually when I bought my Lumia 820, I switch the region to US and the language to US English so I have Cortana by default when upgrading to 8.1. You don't have to change regional settings to enable or disable Cortana, just turn location on our off. That's what I do when I need to use vision or music. Like I said before, if you don't want to go to the start screen and hit the app, you can use this method to temporarily turn off Cortana and open Bing :)
  • Oh so u mean US ppl will die if they stop using cortana.. as i said get a life dude... u used to use ur wp w/o it and now that u have do u really think it is 100% necessary? brainless
  • yes actually, you will die, once shes enabled she hooks into parts of your brain, disengaging her conciousness will also cause your life to cease.
  • Microsoft should provide this pinning option themselves as they did in Translator, our clients and ourselves use QR codes regularly and Windows Phone quick access from Search button is been a great feature to date and same goes for tagging a music as asking Cortana in a loud environment may not work.
  • what a nice addition.
  • 'Tell Cortana “Cortana, open QR” to voice-launch the app.' => It not work to me
  • Me neither.
  • what vanhoabui said, when you turn off location for Cortana and hit the search button bing search opens up like it normally does and bing vision is there at the bottom. so its still there just have to have locations off.  
  • Eh I just use the bing vision lens in the camera? Though I guess Nokia users wouldn't see it if they are using Nokia camera
  • Small complaint: the icon is too big when tile size is set to small. The author should have put a few more pixels in the margins. Adopted nonetheless.
  • This is not a good substitute for having the feature directly accessible via search.  Microsoft needs to put it back asap.  I use Bing Vision daily, multiple times even.  Not having to go to start and then launch an app, or even worse the current way of accessing via Lenses...sometimes I wonder what's going on at Microsoft.  Don't break what didn't need fixing.
  • if u read some comments u'll see a way to access bing vision
  • Transparent tile!!! :D   Keeping!! :D
  • Didn't read the whole article.   It's a shortcut to lenses, not Bing Vision.   Unkeeping!
  • FYI, Bing Vision isn't restricting to reading QR codes for those who jump into asking why people still scan those QR codes...
  • This really isn't that big a deal and only an issue if you choose not to use the stock camera app. Maybe people should be clamoring for the Nokia Camera app to add a shorcut icon for lenses instead of pretending their workflow got completely demolished. Lenses are a big part of Windows Phone and they should be treated as such. Even without the shortcut its ONE extra tap if your using Nokia Camera people! This workflow isn't putting anybody out: Hold to camera button to wake up stock camera => tap lenses button => tap on Bing Vision And neither is this one: Hold to camera button to wake up Nokia camera => tap on ellipsis for options/settings => tap "lenses..."=> tap on Bing Vision Was there a one tap option to get to Bing Vision that got removed? I don't think so...
  • I think telling people what is easier/what is not, or that they should use the stock camera app over Nokia Camera is a bit presumptuous. Let people have their shortcut app and be done with it. As someone who uses the QR scanning a lot, your method highlighted is not particularly fast or convenient, whereas this shortcut helps a bit.
  • Your right using an app pinned to your start screen is convenient and will shave 1-2 taps off of your workflow when it come time for you to scan a QR code. My point is to people who don't want to pin a QR reader to their start screen and use Bing vision instead: the world has not ended. You can still use Bing Vision but the way you get to it is slightly different; not longer and not less convenient than having to intiate it from the Bing page, just different. The complaints about the Bing Vision icon not being in Cortana sound similar to the complaints about the Start menu being "removed" from Windows 8. If MS adds it fine but if they don't no need to get the pitchforks out...
  • Hit the nail right on the head with the start menu analogy! Exactly!
  • Thank god, been missing my quick and easy access This app will be invaluable, and should be pretty easy to find space for it on my now 3-column wide Start Screen. ;) Now to just scan that QR and download this QR code app---- Wait a second... Oh bother!
  • Cortana picked up "Open QR" perfectly.   Not a bad lil app.
  • Not entirely on-topic, but did it never strike anyone else that bing vision cannot turn on camera flash to use it in non-optimal lighting conditions?! I found a topic on the WP suggestions forums, which has only 13 votes, though.. Expected a little more there, tbh ;)
  • Well my QR Scanner can turn on focus light (automatically on each focus-tap, via dedicated on-screen-button or via hardware-camera-button), also recognizes more QR types than Bing Vision and has the ability to reduce the scan area if there are to many QR codes side by side. Just a few features ;-)    
  • Add me to the list of people desperately wanting Bing Vision back.  
  • Still there.. just turn off ur location and then tap search button..
  • When i want to use QR code scanner i just turn off location and then tap the search button..
  • This app should be named LENSES, it's not what i expect with that name.
  • And what about the build in Music recognition in Bing? I use that quit often since it is that easy to use with only 2 taps on the phone. (and Apple seams to copy that in ios8).
  • Just say open qr
  • How do I delete the history of what I scanned 
  • Well, this app is no longer published. Found "Lens Picker" ( to be a good substitute.
  • No Bing Vision in my Lumia 720 which is WP8.1 Lumia Cyan updated. What do do? :(
  • yep i used them on my ipones all the time lol.  Wghere on earth is this option in mobile 10?