In preparation for a new section of the publication, I've been field-testing barcode apps. Some of which have become part of my daily routine. I couldn't allow our loyal readership to brave the Black Friday madness without first sharing a little of what I've learned.
There has been a lot of hub bub around ShopSavvy, and with good reason. It has one of the best scanners I've seen, picking up barcodes quickly and easily, and will return useful data more times than not. Nothing is more irritating than pulling out your phone to scan something and not finding it in the database (its like getting a remote control car for Christmas, but no batteries). ShopSavvy delivers the goods with increasing frequency, and just this morning saved me $5 bucks by alerting me to a cheaper Zhu Zhu pet just down the road. There have been instances when I am in the store ready to buy, scan the product, find it for way less on Amazon, buy it right there from my phone and walk out the door without waiting in a single line. Genius. I love this app. And its FREE.
Sometimes, however, a more targeted app is necessary. I am obsessive about books, an affliction that carries over into my holiday gift-giving. When it comes to books (and movies, too), SnapTell is where it's at. The barcode scanner has a built-in steadiness meter so that you aren't just blindly standing there pointing your camera at the barcode, wondering if its working at all. Once it detects the code it loads a progress bar for you so you know to hold still. The real meat behind this app though, points to what I believe will be the future of the industry: image recognition. You can find a book, CD, DVD or video game just by taking a photo of it. I've conducted extensive testing and have only been able to stump the app twice. The downside is that only two local booksellers are represented. My favorite bookstore is not one of the two, but the app did save me from spending an extra $8 on A Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving this morning. And you can almost always find a great deal on any book at Amazon. Another free app I can't live without.
And in the benevolent spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, I'd like to bring your attention to the GoodGuide app. Although, this app sometimes falls into the “seriously, that's not in the database?” category, and the barcode scanner requires statue-like stillness and studio lighting, when it does find a product it provides extensive albeit often frightening information regarding the health, environmental and social performance of the product and the company that makes it. For example, you know that cheap shampoo you bought, the one with all those crazy ingredients? Well, the company that makes it is destroying the planet, but don't worry because you'll probably die of the cancer that its giving you before that happens.
But seriously, it is easy to get caught up in consumerism and forget about the bigger picture. At the end of the day, its not the money we saved or the awesome gift we bought that really matters, its the legacy we leave behind for our children, its how we treat our fellow man and the planet we live on. This app aims to use technology to help us make more conscious decisions about what we put in our bodies and what kind of companies we support. Although its execution is currently lacking, I hold high hopes for future versions, and support the concept whole-heartedly.
With that, I send you off into the Black Friday battle zone, armed with your barcode scanning apps and, hopefully, a grateful heart. From all of us here at The BarCode News, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
Stay tuned for more in-depth app reviews.