WhatsApp's reliance on phone numbers for authentication is part of the reason the app took off so fast — no username, no email, no password, no fuss. But that requirement has become a hindrance over the last few years, be it in the lack of multi-device support or the inability to quickly start chatting with someone without adding them to your phone's contacts first. There are workarounds for the latter, but nothing too straightforward. Now WhatsApp is starting to address this by adding QR codes for profiles in the latest beta.
The idea isn't new or innovative in any way: Allo and Twitter used QR codes before, while Spotify, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram created their own code formats. Its benefits are obvious when you want to share your profile with someone you've just met or whom you can't reach any other way. You can show them your code and have them scan it with their phone to instantly start a chat. If you're a business, you could also display the code and let customers easily reach you. The feature hasn't rolled out to WhatsApp Business, but it's only a matter of time.
To get your QR code, go to Settings and it'll be right next to your name and photo. Tap the green code on the far right and you'll get to a screen where you can share your code or scan someone else's.
The code is displayed on the screen, but you can also share it remotely through apps on your phone. Under the three-dot menu in the top right, you can reset it. If your code was made public without your approval, that's an easy way to revoke it and stop people from reaching you through it.
To scan another person's code, you need to switch to the second tab. Both scanning with the cam (with/without flash) and opening saved images on your phone are available. Once scanned, the person's name and number will pop up, so you can add them to your contacts and start talking to them.
The feature is currently limited to the latest beta of WhatsApp. To get it, you need to join the official beta program and wait for the app to update to v2.20.171, or you can sideload that directly from APK Mirror.