The Barcodescan Pro app helps you find the best price

Barcodescan Pro [iTunes Link] is an app that uses the autofocus camera of an iPhone running OS 3.1 or better to scan a bar code and provide a variety of information on the product including pictures, high and low prices and more depending upon how much information is in the Barcodescan database.

To scan a barcode, you just hold the iPhone so that the barcode appears in a highlighted window and as soon as the image is steady enough, the app automatically takes a picture, compares it to its database, and renders your results. Another way of getting information into the app is typing in the numbers of the barcode into an oversized numeric keyboard.

I had it scan the CD of Tommy and it came back with a picture of the album cover, a prices line showing the lowest to highest found price which when tapped upon, showed the underlying five vendors, another tap gets you to the selected vendor's site to buy it. You can also choose a tab to get to Google for a standard search and another for Amazon where you can log-in and put it on your wish list or purchase the item. The vendors in the low to high price list never included Amazon, which I thought odd since Amazon was a persistent button on each search.

You can check If the item is found on iTunes. If so, you are presented with a contextual service option which brings in iTunes information. Instead of giving me one entry for the album of Tommy, it gave me many instances that contained the word Tommy.

Results are saved to lists. The Recent list shows the last thing you searched for, the History list shows everything you've searched for. You can create custom lists and easily move any searches between lists. Results can also be shared allowing you to email the search.

So, is it any good? Read on...

My mother used to tell me about the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very very good and when she was bad, she was horrid. That was the first thing I thought of when putting this app through its paces. Sometimes it worked fine and did everything as advertised, but those times were rare.

The first thing you have to get accustomed to is exactly how to hold the iPhone to get the app to snap a picture. After playing with making the image, smaller, larger, closer, farther, lighter, darker for about 15 minutes I started getting the hang of it. When it snapped a picture, any one of four things happened: it didn't understand the barcode and wanted input to expand its database, or it showed me the proper product, or it showed me the wrong product, or it gave me bits and pieces of information but not enough to be useful. Often when you tapped on the Google tab, it brought up Amazon results and vice versa.

Often it just didn't snap a picture at all. Many times I held the iPhone steady and the barcode I was scanning was clear as day, but the shutter just never went off. You can force a picture by clicking on the shutter, but in practice that never worked for me. No forced picture was ever recognized.

When it did work, it often didn't pull up a picture or description, but did pull up some links. When something was in iTunes and it pulled up a list of everything with title word in the name (pages of them sometimes), clicking on one always brought up an error message telling me that it couldn't connect to iTunes.

You can email yourself search results but not individually. Your only option is to share all which sends you results of everything in your history list. The resulting email heavy on advertising and light on information only providing the few mobile formatted links that were displayed in the app and since they are mobile formatted, aren't extremely useful when viewed on your computer, with the exception of a non-mobile formatted Google search link.

The database is too small for general use. In searching for a dozen items of audio, video and household products, it came up empty or wrong 5 times. Your results will be different I'm sure since I just scanned whatever was around.

I would love for this app to be everything it says it is, since similar apps like Cyclops just deal with while Barcodescan Pro can use a variety of sources depending upon how much information is in its database.

Barcodescan Pro, if dependable, could save me a bunch of money, but as it stands, I can't recommend it, either at the usual price of US $4.99 or the promotional price of US $0.99 that will go into effect on November 24th.

I really hope that this app gets worked over with eye toward fit and finish while increasing the database to cover many more products. If and when it does, it has the potential to become one of my most used and useful apps. But for now, I'd look elsewhere, like RedLaser for example.

Here are some screenshots of the app.


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