BlackBerry barcode and scanner apps decoded

By Joseph Holder on 30 Sep 2010 01:23 pm EDT
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CrackBerry Barcode

We use many types of bar codes in our everyday life. Nearly everything we buy has a UPC code printed on it. The CrackBerry app store features QR codes in the description for every app. Magazines and even books use these codes to rapidly steer their readers to more information.

To make use of all these codes, you need a good scanner. I tested four of them: Edocrab, ScanLife, Sccope, and Microsoft Tag. A good barcode app is one that scans easily, understands a variety of codes, and gets you to the correct information. Only one actually met all of those qualifications.

BlackBerry Barcode and Scanner Apps

First, some background information. Bar code scanners are pretty simple apps to use. Once you've started the appropriate app, it's pretty much point (your BB's auto-focus camera at the bar code) and click (to take a picture). Assuming you've taken a decent photo of the code, the app does the decoding and acts on the information in the code. This information could be a web address, a vCard, or even instructions to call a specific phone number.

Not all codes work with all apps. The Universal Product Code (UPC) is standardized by an international non-profit. You'll find it on most everything you buy. QR codes are more and more common each day, appearing on the CrackBerry app store; in advertisements, and even in BlackBerry Messenger. But there are many barcodes that only work with specific apps. EZ Code and Data Matrix codes only work with the ScanLife app; Microsoft Tags only work with the associated reader.

ScanLife

Scanlife

Awesome: App decodes UPC, QR, Data Matrix, and EZ Code. Fast decoding under many different lighting and focusing situations. Easily scans codes on LCD monitors. Codes can be linked to ScanLife.com account to create links to web pages, place a phone call, or add a contact. Personal codes can be created for free. After scanning UPC, mobile site offers links to product information, reviews, and online purchasing.

Meh: Mobile site simplistic and provides bare-bones information. Limited supply of online retailers, no local retailers. Codes to start a phone call only open up the mobile site with a link to the phone number.

Edocrab

edocrab

Meh: The days of Edocrab seem to have passed. When you can get it to actually scan a barcode, you'll find Edocrab doesn't properly handle QR Codes; and UPC lookup seems to have failed as well. The last blog post on the site is from November 2009, and Steelthorn no longer seems to support the product on its site.

Sccope

Sccope

Awesome: UPC lookup results directly in the application. Ability to purchase products through the app. Free trial available.

Meh: $2.99 when other scanner apps are free. Difficult to scan barcodes; application controls some camera functions, takes pictures randomly at times. Forced to scan pictures in landscape mode. No QR code support.

MS Tag

MS Tag

Awesome: Use multicolored tags to link people to your product. Ability to change tag's background or transform into a multicolored image. Create MS Tags to link to web pages, call a phone number, or add a vCard. MS Tags are free for personal and business use. Application scans screen and print images well.

Meh: App only supports MS Tags; cannot scan UPC or QR codes.

Conclusion

Of these four apps, only ScanLife scans easily, reads a variety of bar codes, and gets you to the information quickly.

As a QR, Data Matrix, EZ code reader, this app performs splendidly. As a UPC scanner, ScanLife seems a bit lacking. After recognizing a product's unique code, ScanLife provides a limited number of prices of online retailers in a simple mobile website format. In these days of sophisticated apps, getting results via the browser seems like cheating somehow. And in the coming days of the BlackBerry OS6 revolution, simple mobile sites just won't cut it anymore.

Reader comments

BlackBerry barcode and scanner apps decoded

35 Comments

Your 8530 isn't supported because it doesn't have an auto focusing camera.

There's a generic version of ScanLife IF you really want to try it.

Why can't any of these scan apps work like BBM? I would like to let the app decide when the QR code can be interpreted.

It sucks to have to launch the app, press a button, open the camera, attempt to frame up and focus the image, take a photo and wait for the app to tell you it can't read the QR code.

I just want to point my device at the QR code like I do with BBM.

If you're on AT&T, there's also AT&T Code Scanner. Bottom line is that there isn't a really great app for the BB like there is for other platforms. Two other really awful readers are BeeTagg and UpCode.

I can tell you that there were a lot of comments on the Beta Zone talking about adding a barcode reader to the standard BB camera interface. Meaning, you open your camera and there's an option to scan a barcode.

I've had great luck with edocrab. Just open the app, click scan, and aim at the barcode. Most everything is in its database and you get reviews and a long list of online retailers. Not sure why the review was so hard on it.

BB apps lacking!?! I guess BB users don't care about apps? There's one for seems like Android, which is on developers radar now instead of BB and of course, Iphone that's really good that I saw on a tech segment!

Looking forward to my upgrade from a BB for better apps!

tried edocrab--piece of garbage now use Scanlife no issues highly agree with review and would suggest it to anyone interested

Joseph, I really love how you write, you keep my attention. So, why another scanner app review. I would love to see you write something different than your past two articles as you are really good.

When I read this I was really hopeful I would know what app to use afterward. I tried scanlife on my Storm2 and changed to the Bold, it didnt improve between phones and just wasn't what I thought it could be. I'm taking from this if scanlife is the best there is I should just live without a code reader eh.

on a Bold 9650 and it does what it needs too. only thing i have found wrong with it is that the data base of information it has is user driven therefore there is not always information on a bar code. but when it works it is decent.

What about mobiletag and i-nigma? There are a few others that rarely get a review! This should be enough to make RIM consider including QR-Code as part of the OS. Why do other platforms get all the fun?

Couldn't get a single scan out of about a dozen different bar codes. Tried books, vitamin bottles, water bottles. Nothing worked. Deleted.

I tried ScanLife on my Tour 9630 and could not get it to scan anything! I did find an app that works good on the Tour, BeeTagg QR Reader 3.0. It only scans QR codes but works well. It takes a moment to analyze the code then presents you with options to do various things.

Okay, so installed Scanlife, tried it on a few QR codes, nothing worked. Then I went into the settings and turned _off_ the sound, and it seemed to work on everything. This is with the non-autofocus version (Scanlife 2D) not the more modern version, but I thought I'd post this on the chance that others had the same problem.

I'm not sure if shopsavvy will work for bb but its an awesome app on the droid. It scans a variety of bar codes and it then gives you a list of places to find the product. It also shows you who has the best price.

Easy way to scan QR codes without any third party app is by using BBM.

Open Blackberry Mesenger, Choose Invite Contact > Invite by scanning a PIN barcode.

Try face camera into Crackberry.com barcode above, it will show a popup:

"Open link? http://www.cracberry.com"

It's work! but for QR code only.

I've tried them all on my 8530, not a single one reads UPC codes.

They need to make one that works with fixed and autofocus cameras.

Hey all I tried to scan a QR code out of the dec issue of game informer it was part of a tron game ad probably just a link to a online promo video. But I tried all the different scanning apps I could find as well as the bbm scanner nothing worked. I am beginning to think it is beyond the focus limitations of the camera. When the 83xx were developed QR codes did not really exists yet. Any way if anybody has been able to get any scanning app to work on 83xx please let me know would love to get it working. Thanks

Hey all I tried to scan a QR code out of the dec issue of game informer it was part of a tron game ad probably just a link to a online promo video. But I tried all the different scanning apps I could find as well as the bbm scanner nothing worked. I am beginning to think it is beyond the focus limitations of the camera. When the 83xx were developed QR codes did not really exists yet. Any way if anybody has been able to get any scanning app to work on 83xx please let me know would love to get it working. Thanks

this option works better than any other scanner apps I've tried. if you haven't tried it yet, you should.

I've been using lynkee v2.0 and it works fine. Sees 3 kinds of barcodes. A bit slow to recognize and show the web info, but it usually succeeds. I needed to reboot after installing for it to work..

I had no luck with Scanlife - it was fast, but too often it said it couldn't recognize the barcode, or that there even was a barcode in the picture.

This is on a Sprint Style 9760.