ScanLife: the 2D Barcode Reader

By Ryan Blundell on 13 Oct 2009 10:22 am EDT

On October 7th, 1952, the first patent for a “Classifying Apparatus and Method” was issued. This eventually developed into the barcodes we know today. I mostly associated barcodes with the UPC barcodes found typically on price tags. I never thought too much about what was beyond those boops and beeps. I was surprised to learn the large number of Linear and 2D barcodes that are used for various reasons. Beyond sales, inventory tracking and shipping/receiving, you can utilize codes to encode URLs, characters, images, emails and more.

A few weeks ago, while reading the Metro News (yes I still read actual newspapers), I came across the 2D barcode called EZcode, found within one of their sections. The EZcode links readers to their mobile site and updated editorials. This review isn’t about them, it’s about the free barcode reader I picked up from the BlackBerry App World. It’s about ScanLife. This application is able to read an EZcode, QR Code and Datamatrix / Semacode. ScanLife may not be the life you want to live, so have a read and see if it’s for you.

About ScanLife

The ScanLife application is a portion of a solution brought to you by Scanbuy Inc. The IP rights and patents to EZCode are currently owned by Scanbuy. The solution, according to the company, consists of a Code Clearing House, Code Registry, Code Management Platform and, of course, the ScanLife mobile app. According to BlackBerry App World, the mobile app is available for the 81XX series, 82XX series, 83xx series, 88xx series, Curve 8900, Bold 9000 and Tour. The current version is 3.01.

The Main Menu

The UI dresses up the simple barcode reader quite nicely. Your trackball will allow you to navigate the application, as there are no keyboard shortcuts. The concept is pretty simple; ScanLife utilizes your BlackBerry’s camera to snap a pic of a 2D barcode. A steady hand and decent lighting are key. When I first tried to scan a barcode, the image was blurry and dark, therefore, ScanLife had issues trying to process the image. Once the shutterbug in me took hold, I was able to snap, scan and search with ease. If scanned successfully, ScanLife will sound a tone, and begin to retrieve information. Sometimes, you’ll find that the application will take a long time to process the image, or load the content. Once in a while, it would freeze and I would have to pull the battery. This is a serious issue that I hope will be addressed in the next version.

just shopping around..
link to a site

ScanLife also has an info page that appears after the information has been gathered. This information details the code content and if the code has been registered or not. At this point, you can return to the menu or proceed to the content. The application also includes a history section - the six most recent successful scans will be listed. Previous scans will be lost, unless you add them to your Favourites. If you click on a scan from your history, you will revisit the content, as well as sound another tone. This could get annoying quickly, so I suggest turning off the sound in the settings menu. Other options include: sending off an SMS invite to people you know, a help section and automatic updates. For more barcode fun (not from the application), you can set up a free ScanLife account and create Webcodes, SMS codes, Call codes, Contact Codes, Menu codes and Twitter codes (which posts a pre-filled tweet to a user’s Twitter account).

View History
ScanLife - barcode style!


While ScanLife is a decent barcode reader, it’s not without fault. Besides the occasional unresponsiveness, I constantly have to delete captured barcodes from my BlackBerry’s memory. I do appreciate being able to view my history and maintain a favourites section. Now, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for 2D codes when I’m out and about - curious to see what I’ll find. You can find ScanLife as a free download at BlackBerry App World. Happy Hunting!


  • access to information wherever a supported 2D is found
  • view history and favourites


  • may become unresponsive
  • must capture a clear, crisp image

More Info

Reader comments

ScanLife: the 2D Barcode Reader


edocrab works GREAT on my Storm...
Scan's, finds product, finds locations for product using GPS...

It works for me is visually and economically useful and a plus.

Looks like there is a newer version on App World - 3.0.2.
It auto-deletes the image, and fixes some other bugs. Pretty nice app.

Edocrab does everything that this app does, only it does it much better. This app is only for 2D codes, while edocrab does it for all codes. I am a teacher, and this thing has helped my find books for waaaaay cheaper than I would have ended up paying without having used it. Check it out. It is available in Appworld as well.

I would disagree that edocrab does it for all codes. Yes, I would agree that it works for product barcodes; however, it does not work for qr code per se. I tried this decoder on an exclusive "9" movie poster, and while it did give me the correct web address, it was looking for cheaper deals for the web address! I would have to enter the web address in my browser myself, sooo not very helpful in that case.

Haven't tried ScanLife yet, but I have downloaded and installed Edocrab. I do like Edocrab, but something is broken with it, since the last time I used it I scanned three different items, and while it correctly identified the item all the reviews I saw were for different products entirely.

It seems to work well and I have it saved along with NeoReader. I haven't seen any of these barcodes in the wild, but I got the room to keep them just in case. Their website downloads ver 3.01 and when I try to update within the program, it says there are no updates.

EDOCRAB definitely takes the cake, much easier to use and is fluid and a solid app. Plus like someone else said it will scan any barcode, some items just aren't in the system but it still finds what it has fast with reviews, pricing, and the links of where to get it!!!

use the scan option on bbm5 no need to add extra apps. i've seen a lot of qrcode on movie posters at the movies

bbm 5 doesn't work for regular sms text messages nor does it work for a message to a friend. this is where another app would come in handy. on qrcode for websites, the bbm 5 work great!

Yes, it will work for UK residents. You just need to find an app that works with your type of phone. I would also try the following website:

Hope this helps.

Typical ... if you are one of the following have at it :( - sad Storm user here.

8100 (Pearl)
8110 (Pearl)
8120 (Pearl)
8130 (Pearl)
8220 (Pearl Flip)
8230 (Pearl Flip)
8300 (Curve)
8310 (Curve)
8320 (Curve)
8330 (Curve)
8350 (Curve)
8520 (Curve)
8900 (Curve)
9000 (Bold)
9630 (Tour)

Doesn't work for sh*t on my Bold, probably because the camera stinks. Cant grab a clear photo of any barcode, tried 8 different items and all were blurry....and "no I wasn't shaking". I deleted it within 3 minutes.