While barcodes were largely designed to expedite the checkout process, they have become a monumental source of information for shoppers by way of the rise of barcode scanning apps. With a simple click of a virtual button, consumers can be armed with all sorts of vital information about the products on store shelves. These apps are available for a variety of smartphone platforms and offer a range of advanced functionality.
Seven Top Barcode Scanner Mobile Apps
The top barcode scanning apps typically utilize the rear-facing camera found on nearly every modern cell phone to take a picture of a barcode or QR code and translate that information into data that can be used by the phone to provide price comparisons, product information and more. Seven of the best available apps include:
1. Quick Scan by iHandy
Compatible with all types of commercial barcodes, Quick Scan is a simple barcode scanner that allows consumers to find the lowest price for any product. The free app is available via the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later. It has a built-in shopping comparison tool that features thousands of different brands and retailers, like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon. There is also an LED flashlight option to allow for barcode scanning under dimmer light conditions. Alternatively, it is possible to type in the barcode number directly instead of scanning. A Brighthand.com review notes that the scanner works quickly and is very accurate, yet does not provide results that are as comprehensive as those provided by some of its competitors.
2. ScanLife by Scanbuy
A QR code reader and barcode scanner, Scanbuy's ScanLife mobile app is available free through many major smartphone platforms, including the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. Scanning regular UPC/EAN barcodes of products, users can view prices from over 30 online retailers, buying directly from the phone itself. There is also a built in utility to search for local prices at local retailers, as well as a tool to read customer reviews that have been posted on Amazon and Best Buy. Nutritional information and ingredients can be viewed for food products. Support for QR codes includes not only scanning, but also the creation of personalized QR codes for sharing contact details. This app has received numerous positive reviews on Amazon, with consumers lauding it as fast, accurate and easy-to-use.
3. Google Goggles
Available exclusively for Google Android smartphones and tablets, Google Goggles is a full featured and free app that allows users to access useful information by simply taking a picture. The app works perfectly for scanning barcodes to get product information, as well as scanning QR codes for additional information and Internet links. Google Goggles goes further, though, as it is able to recognize products and landmarks even without barcodes. Taking a picture of a book or DVD cover can oftentimes result in the same kind of information as scanning the barcodes directly. A CNet review points out that the app is novel and can can result in time savings.
4. RedLaser by eBay Mobile
Even though RedLaser was developed and is offered by eBay Mobile, it is actually a valuable barcode scanning app that can be used to as a price comparison tool across thousands of online and local retailers. In the United States, the app will search through the pricing information from different retailers for the scanned product, but it can also look up deals and coupons from hundreds of stores as well. As TechCrunch points out, RedLaser is an ideal option for users who want to comparison whop while they are on the go. Related products are also displayed and it is possible to scan and store loyalty cards for added benefits. RedLaser is available for iOS platforms for free.
5. ShopSavvy Barcode Scanner
This mobile app works like other barcode scanning apps in that it works as a price comparison engine based on the barcodes that are scanned, but ShopSavvy has the added utility of building upon a crowdsourced community effort. If a user discovers that the app doesn't have the correct price from a retailer, he or she can edit and submit the change for review. If a barcode is missing, the user can also add it to the system. Multiple currencies are supported, retailer locations are provided, and coupon codes can be viewed too. A ShopSavvy review on the SoftIonic blog points out that other great features include social media integration and a history function that allows you to view and search through previous scans. ShopSavvy can be downloaded for free via Google Play for Android or iTunes for iPhone.
6. Scan to Spreadsheet by Berry Wing LLC
Offering a completely different kind of functionality, Scan to Spreadsheet is a smartphone application that is designed for retail and warehouse workers to account for physical inventory, cycle count and asset tracking. As its name implies, Scan to Spreadsheet allows these workers to scan the barcodes of the products, which are then automatically added to a spreadsheet for inventory purposes. The spreadsheet can then be saved and shared. It is featured in the BarCodesInc.com list of top barcode scanner apps for iPhone and Android. The $2.99 app is available from the Google Play Store for Android and from iTunes for iOS.
7. Barcode Reader by LEAD Technologies
While the majority of the barcode scanning apps on this list are made for Google Android and Apple iOS devices, Barcode Reader is an app that is offered solely for Windows Phone. The free app is able to read through pictures of barcodes that are taken with Windows Phone devices, decipher the barcodes that are in these pictures and then perform a web search on the resulting product to find additional information. Barcode Reader supports UPC/EAN, PDF417, Datamatrix and QR type barcodes.
Product Details at Your Fingertips
Barcode scanning apps can be very convenient, quickly providing users with nutritional or pricing information of products found on store shelves. There are many similar or related products, though, that may not show up under the same barcode search. This is why it can still be useful to perform a regular web search from a smartphone to look up additional reviews and instructions, as well as information about relevant product alternatives, before making a purchase decision. Consumers have been greatly empowered by technology, and barcode scanner apps are just one of the many tools available.