If you are looking for a fast and easy way to scan both 1D and 2D bar codes, Barcode Scanner is the solution for you. It is a free, lightweight app that can detect bar codes in front of the camera without the need to press buttons or take pictures. Also, it is useful for sharing data between phones via QR (2D) codes.
One might argue that the Goggles app from Google does the same thing. True. However, it is easier to use Barcode Scanner for bar codes because of the way it works. When you start the app you are presented with the camera view and a rectangle in the middle with a horizontal red line across. All you have to do is position the camera so that the bar code sits inside the rectangle and it will automatically focus and grab the code, without requiring any other action from the user. In the case of 1D bar codes, the red line must be placed from one end to another. The 2D ones (QR codes) can be scanned at any angle.
After placing the code into position, a couple of yellow dots will appear that try to match the bar code (this should take less than a second) after which your scanned information is ready to use.
One awesome thing about the book scanner is that you can perform a content search. That’s right, you can actually search the text within the book. I found it hard to get it to work with most books, but in the end I got a few results from a Da Vinci Code ISBN.
For people in a hurry, there is a bulk scan mode that scans continuously everything in front of the camera and saves the codes. The saving part is a bit tricky. I didn’t find any file that the codes were written to or any setting for that matter. Instead, the codes are available in the history section. A somewhat usability disadvantage here: it works only in landscape mode and at the end you can find options for sending the history or clearing it. These 2 look exactly like the previous code scans!
A reverse feature of the application is the ability to generate QR codes for Applications, Contacts, Bookmarks or Clipboard on your phone. This proves useful if you want to share information between devices. Either scan the phone using another one or simply email (or share using other apps like Facebook or Twitter) the QR code along with the original text or URL.
More options are available in the settings section and they allow you to customize the application’s behavior like beeping or vibrating.
All in all this is a great app to have, it takes less than 1 MB of space and it is easy to use. Although it does not have the polished feel like other apps, it does its job without problems. You may not use it on a regular basis, but in the event you need it, it should already be installed and ready to use.
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If there is something we missed out or you wish to find other resources for this application, be sure to check the following links:
- What are QR codes (article on Wikipedia)
- ZXing “Zebra Crossing” – the library this app is built upon