Android Bar Code Scanner Apps: Comparison Shopping With Your Smart Phone

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android barcode scanner appsUsing an Android barcode scanner app on your smartphone now makes it fast and easy to comparison shop by scanning the product bar code. Now, when you see what looks like a great deal as you're shopping, you don't need to pass it up because you are unable to compare prices. Instead, you can pull out your smartphone and, using a pre-downloaded barcode scanner, you can start to compare deals.

Many sellers have jumped on the QR code bandwagon, creating these funky codes that smart phone users can scan in stores and compare prices on products. But the more mature barcode technology, primarily used at the cash register, now has many mobile apps popping up allowing consumers to price shop. And since barcodes appear on virtually every product, you're almost guaranteed to find what you're looking for.

This review focuses on Android barcode scanning apps for smart phones using the Android operating system. A quick search of the Android market using the term "barcode scanner" produced 932 results.

Deciding to focus on the search results near the top of the list and looking at those with at least four stars or more and mostly positive reviews, I selected and installed twelve applications. Some offer more versatility, giving you the ability to scan QR codes in addition to barcodes.

Then I headed out to a big name electronics store to do a little comparison shopping. Each app was used to scan the bar code of a recently released DVD. Below is a quick synopsis of how successfully the apps scanned the product code, what information they provided, and recommendations for getting started using these valuable tools.

Android Barcode Scanner

Android Barcode ScannerThe Android Barcode Scanner opens with a large viewfinder rectangle with a pulsing red horizontal line. The directions on the screen ask you to "place a barcode inside the rectangle to scan it." The code scanned quickly, bringing up the barcode number, the format (i.e. UPC-A) and offered several options across the bottom of the screen.

You can search by product, conduct a web search, or use Google Shopper. The three options yielded virtually the same results. Google Shopper seems to be the best organized site, showing an image of the product and buttons at the bottom to click on reviews, online and local stores and more detailed product information. Depending on the type of product (DVD, grocery item) the results will vary. There was no way to save the barcode scan if you wanted to return to the initial scan page.

Android QR Droid

This Android barcode scanner app seems more focused on QR codes, with a welcome screen that offers to "let you useQRdroid your camera to scan a QR code in a magazine and watch a video immediately." This first screen also gives some quick tutorials, explaining QR codes, how to scan the codes, and how to share the information with a friend.

Once you reach the main screen, there are options to scan from the camera in your phone, to decode a QR code from an image already saved on your phone or from a URL, or manually entering a 1D barcode (UPC-A or EAN 8 or 13).

The Android scanner decodes a barcode (or QR code) and gives you the option of a product search, a web search or using Google Shopper or Amazon. You can also copy the barcode number to the clipboard or share the information with friends.

If there's a problem scanning the barcode with your phone, this app also allows you to enter the 1D barcode manually, in case the product label is too glossy or won't scan.