Mobile QR scanner to Google Sheets

I was reading an article today “‘Clunky’ government covid app used ‘minimally’ in Marlborough, businesses say

I thought about building one with GlideApps. Then I thought about it some more and realised that GlideApps does not actually access any of your Phones features, its only a web page.

Then I saw the video below and thought, App Inventor, yes that is the way to go. And storing the data on a spreadsheet is excellent.

Alos it gives links to the templates for setting up the app, so thats pretty cool too. The only thing is that this is for Androids only, so for iPhone users a different app would need to be developed.

This is still a fun project to explore.

The Government Covid Tracking App.

I zoomed in on a couple of photos in the article and scanned the QR codes:

The right one, the government one, requires you to download their app and create an account and login initially and give your details. When scanning the code it gives you basic information on the screen (with their app) and then that dissapears. Actually stored on your phone in “Check in History” location in the app. The location, date and time.

On another page you are supposed to fill in your details. There is a location called “Check-in history” that shows you where you have used the app, it stores the information on your phone. Also you can choose to have an alert message (switch) as to whether you get advised if you’ve been to a place someone who has been identified as having Covid has visited that place too (I presume at the same timeframe as yourself).

If you scan on a normal scanner Zxing Scanner) you get:

Which is just gibberish. Thuis could just be a primary key for a DataBase with all the rest of the information relating to that information in a table

I’m here app (left QR code in first image above)

The 2nd app you just scan with a normal scanner

On that you open a web page and have to fill in data:

You fill in basic info and then have to read declaration and flick switch (I accept) Confirming you have no known signs of illness. !!!! Whats that supposed to do? Doesn’t ask if one of the other attendees is sick or not!!!! Not a well thought out statement, and something that would annoy me. Also you have screen with info, no time or date on it (apart from what is on your Mobile screen with Screenshot).

I see these ask for more info than if you just signed in manually at a shop/restaurant. Since the information gets sucked away and you have no record of the visit, I can’t see myself using this app either. Also you have to fill your same information in each time, it would be good if it can remember the details to save you repeating the filling in (maybe via cookies?).

They are not transparent. The 2nd one is more transparent than the government one is as the QR code is not that complex, whereas the Govt QR code is far more granular and opaque and also is taking extra information off your phone as well.

Of the two I think the Government one is more sensible as you have a record/log of where you have used it.

QR Coder with App Inventor with code (video above)

Great video, takes you step by step through the procedure and voila, it all works fine. I used QR Code Generator to create QR codes to practice with, one of them was V Card & it put all the data into one cell into Google sheet.

So, as there is only a single cell for the QR code to drop data in, the exercise worked well. I could scan the Govt QR code and get the string text for that location and keep it and it also has a timestamp for the time you visited. I tried this and it worked fine, unfortunately the string does not give the name of the shop, so its gibberish, but it works. More private and you only need to share if you want.

I didn’t take this any further, I just wanted to test it as a process, and very happy with the results. A great video and tutorial , well done.

End comment

I’m very happy with the result of this tutorial and it has got me thinking about things.

First. It was good to explore the apps that are being used to track Covid and the methods they use.

Second. It was good to play with App Inventor again, I’d been playing with it back in 2016 & 17 and it is about time to give it another visit.

Thirdly. Its got me t’inking. When I got a query from someone about using phones to track paroled people to get them out of prisons due to covid, it showed the limitations of GlideApp as it couldn’t access the Phone’s sensor information. But App Inventor will. And since App Inventor can send/retrieve information to a Google Sheet and GlideApps can send/retrieve information to a Google Sheet there is no reason why you can’t combine the 2 apps to get the best leverage from both. AS LONG AS THEY CAN BOTH CONNECT TO THE SAME GOOGLE SHEET.

Fourthly. This is worth following up as an exercise in Mobile apps using 2 distinct apps for different things. App Inventor to use the phones sensors (only Android) and glide to display, map, manipulate as required as its interface is easy to setup and use.

Fifthly? (Filthy?) These are 2 different types of apps, one you have to load onto your phone, the other is a web link.

Another article will explore these ideas. You can use your phone GPS & Scanner, maybe other sensors too to push info to a google sheet , then retrieve the info via GlideApps. I need to explore App Inventor more to see what it can access. There seem to be a few, but I’m not sure a lot of these would be on the average phone, there is also the Camera as well.