App Roundup: The Best iPhone Barcode Scanners

On October 13, 2010

mobile application development

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Whether you use it to find the lowest price, find other buying options, or even just for fun, it is always helpful to have a barcode scanner app on your iPhone or iTouch. Getting the lowest price is a common goal of many, and to do this, a barcode scanner is the perfect solution.

Red Laser (Free)

With an easy to use interface that also looks nice, Red Laser makes it simple to scan and search prices of products. It scans only UPC and EAN codes, which the type used on nearly all products, and provides both online and local results, and you can view the purchasing results from the sellers within the app, or you can open it in safari. Tapping the lightning bolt brings up the screen to scan, and you simply line up the barcode in between the arrows, and wait for it to scan, which it does very quickly. A slider allows you to scan multiple items at once, meaning you scan multiple barcodes without it searching for prices after each one, and it will search for prices when you tap the item. The scan of the cashews provided allergen information which, although not necessary, is certainly a plus. Red Laser also has the option to “favorite” certain products to use a wish list, e-mail the scanned product list, and allows you to type in a barcode as well.

Barcode Scanner ($0.99)

This app’s interface is not as good looking as Red Laser’s, does not look as clean, and is a bit slower. It was not as intuitive to navigate between search history, scanning, and other menus, and overall responded somewhat slow and did not load pages properly, such as certain help pages, the search tab, settings, and overall was too buggy for my preference. You can view buying results and buy scanned items from right in the app which is helpful, but local purchasing options are not available and I think that is a very helpful feature. It also scans only UPC and EAN codes and allows you to type in codes as well. Barcode Scanner also gives you a description of the item which is nice, although chances are you already know what an item is if you’re scanning it.

ScanLife Barcode Scanner (Free)

The first thing you’ll notice is that you do not need to fit the barcode within a window; as long as it centered on the screen it will scan. It scans reasonably fast, but one downside is that price results open up in safari so it takes a little longer to load, although it gives you details about the product in addition to prices. Clicking one of the results brings you right to the page where you can purchase the item, but when viewing search history is gives you the code number as opposed to the product name, until you scan another product. One big difference is that not only does this app scan UPC and EAC codes, but also EZCodes, Datamatrix, and QR codes, which make this app much more versatile and able to launch the websites, etc. that are associated with the code. Its interface is simple and easy to use making it a great choice for those of you who scan more than just standard bar codes.

Barcode Reader (free)

Barcode Reader is a simple app with not too many features. It makes it easy to scan but search results load a bit too slow, although this is the first app so far that lets you sort results by price or source, and is the first since Red Laser to provide local shopping results as well. The sorting options is great as it allows you to find the lowest price much faster, and local shopping results are always a plus. Just like the rest of the apps, you can also enter products by typing the barcode, but this one allows you to even enter the name of a product to search for. You can also create and send a wish list and read about the product from the seller’s website within the app, as well as launch the site in Safari. However, this app only can scan UPC and EAN codes, although there are only two apps here that can scan more than that.

Shop Savvy Barcode Scanner (free)

Extremely easy to use, Shop Savvy Barcode Scanner has the most user friendly interface, and it looks really good too. It has 5 tabs at the bottom, one to scan bar codes, one to create and edit wish lists, one for price alerts, another for history of scanned products, and the “More” tab which just provides some info about the app. It is easy to scan and scans and searches somewhat quickly, and the wish list in this app is by far the easiest to use, nicest to look at, and the simplest to edit. The price alerts are my favorite feature of this app, and none of the other apps have this. The “Price Alerts” tab allows to you to select scanned items, and get notified if the price drops below a designated level, which you assign. This app provides you with both local and online search results, and tapping a result gives you the option to call the store and get directions (only for local results), tell a friend, and browse the website, all from within the app. You can also read reviews for scanned products, and this app can scan QR codes as well.

That’s it folks. What’s your favorite? Is there any other app we forgot about? Cheers