Barcodes are an integral part of our modern lives. So much so that the Smithsonian Institute has within its collection the very first product sold by barcode, a 10-pack of Juicy Fruit gum (along with a Research in Motion Inter@ctive Pager 900).
If you've been paying attention, you may have noticed that I have a certain affinity for barcodes, Quick Response (QR) codes in particular. These black-and-white squares pack a large amount of information in a simple and efficient form. With a simple scan, users can be directed to web pages, share contact information, and even send emails. Enter QR Code Scanner Pro. It does what it says on the tin, does it well, and does it for free.
But all of this free functionality comes with a bit of a warning.
QR Code Scanner Pro appears to make great use of the BlackBerry Capture API, available to developers writing apps for BlackBerry. Rather than reading a static picture of code like most scanning apps, QRCSP uses the video feed to continuously scan for readable codes.
After opening the app, you're presented with one button. That's it; just one button. Click the button to begin scanning. Once the app has found a barcode, it gives a comforting vibration and takes action based on the code. Many QR codes launch webpages; others can start a phone call or send a text message. Of course, you're always asked before the BlackBerry actually does anything.
QR Code Scanner Pro is a single-purpose app designed to do one thing well. As QR codes become more and more abundant with each passing day, QR Code Scanner Pro makes it easy to take advantage of them.
But Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware - is a phrase that becomes all the more important when the app is free. Just as with your home computer, you should always be mindful of both the source and the developer of an app. If you're unsure of an app, you could always check out our forums for more information about the developer.
Granting permissions is another area of concern. Most apps need at least some permissions to function properly. Google Maps, for example, needs access to your GPS data to do its job. Other apps seem to have no legitimate reason for needing data. For example, why does QR Code Scanner Pro need to access my personal data? Only grant the permissions you know an app will need. You can always change it later.
I have never experienced the problems that others have reported with this app. Last week, however, I granted more permissions than I should have after installing another of this developer's apps. I even received an email from them on my default account. Trouble is, I keep that email address very private and use it for nothing in my online life. Except for me, my BlackBerry, and my web server; no computer or person should even know of its existence.
QR Code Scanner Pro is available for all BlackBerry smartphones running OS 5.0 and greater. [Thanks mitchsurp]
Some QR Code examples