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Old Oct 16, 2009, 04:21 PM   #1
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App Store Highlight: RedLaser



Prior to the iPhone 3GS, the 2-megapixel camera with a fixed focus lens in previous iPhone models was a pain point for many users frustrated with its inability to capture detail within short distances, particularly compared to cameras in other less expensive cell phones. Developers who created apps using the iPhone's camera often received the brunt of this ire.

In particular, this shortcoming affected barcode reader apps, and many such apps made available in the App Store before the release of the iPhone 3GS suffered from poor reviews by users who had disappointing experiences trying to use them. With the improved 3-megapixel camera with an auto-focus lens in the iPhone 3GS, this appears to have changed for the better. When it comes to the current crop of barcode reader apps, RedLaser by Occipital stands out - it was recently updated to version 2.2.0 and it works very well. In our informal tests, it had a 100% success rate of reading barcodes on a variety of items using an iPhone 3GS.

RedLaser's feature list includes the following:

Quote:
- Scans UPC, EAN, and UPC-E barcodes
- Finds prices using Google Product Search, and Amazon
- Email a list of products
- Send barcodes as email attachment
- Search ANY website using a custom URL (How-To coming soon)
- Automatic search localization for USD, EUR, and GBP, as well as Amazon (.com/.co.uk/.de/.co.jp/.fr/.ca/.cn) autoselection
Scanning a barcode goes quickly and there are on-screen guide bars to help you place the barcode in a position to be scanned. Once the barcode is in the correct position, the guide bars turn green and the barcode is scanned - there is no need to actually capture an image of the barcode or press any other virtual buttons to prompt the scan.



Lining up a barcode to scan

By default, the app automatically conducts a search on Google and Amazon to find pricing and product information, though this automatic search following a scan can be turned off in the main settings pane.



Search results after scanning a barcode and the settings pane

RedLaser's description states that it works on all iPhone models, though informal testing with a first-generation iPhone yielded fewer successful scans than with an iPhone 3GS, as expected, though it still works well enough that its $1.99 price [App Store] makes it a good buy if you like to comparison shop online as you browse in a brick-and-mortar store.

Article Link: App Store Highlight: RedLaser
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 05:15 PM   #2
fpnc
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How many scans that used the automatic search feature did you actually attempt? There are quite a few reports from users on the iTunes Store that say that the automatic search feature fails very often and it appears that the failures are caused by misread barcodes (i.e. you get a completely incorrect product lookup). A few users say that more often than not you get the wrong product (which makes the scanning nearly useless). Some of these reports are coming from iPhone 3GS users so it's not just a question of the camera not being able to focus on the barcode.

I know that this product is only $1.99, but if it really fails to work then it would just be a waste of two dollars and a frustration for users.

Can anyone who has an iPhone 3GS and RedLaser comment further on its accuracy in reading barcodes and the results of the auto search?
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 05:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fpnc View Post
Can anyone who has an iPhone 3GS and RedLaser comment further on its accuracy in reading barcodes and the results of the auto search?
I have a 32gb 3GS and have also had a 100% recognition rate. Sometimes the search can't find the product online, but it still tells you what you're scanning.

What it really needs is this: The ability to lookup stores nearby to find the product if it's out of stock. For instance, I was at Target yesterday with my wife, and she was having a bad day and wanted her favorite treat: Ritter Sport Marzipan bars. Well they were out of stock and I used this app to scan the code to see if there were any at other stores but it only showed online sources, which didn't really help us much. It did recognize this somewhat obscure (I think German?) brand though.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 05:54 PM   #4
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Works nearly perfectly!

I bought it and I have to say that it works really well. Far better than others I have tried. I was showing this off in a bar the last night and it scanned a number of things including a beer bottle in pretty poor lighting conditions.

Too bad Delicious Library can't do this, though I'm not sure why. They say Amazon has issues about displaying its info on mobile devices, but RedLaser can do it.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 05:59 PM   #5
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This app is great for me. It saved me money plenty of times and it was well worth the $.99 I paid for it a couple of months ago (before the 2.2.0 update).
Worked great at Best Buy when It showed me the lower prices on BestBuy.com than in the Best Buy store I was standing in.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 06:08 PM   #6
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Is there any way to type in the barcode? It would be especially helpful if it were a 10 key (num pad) as well.

I work in retail and even the top of the line commercial scanners don't work 100% of the time especially if the barcode is skewed, stretched or partially wiped out.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 06:22 PM   #7
fo0bar
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Is there any way to type in the barcode? It would be especially helpful if it were a 10 key (num pad) as well.

I work in retail and even the top of the line commercial scanners don't work 100% of the time especially if the barcode is skewed, stretched or partially wiped out.
I just bought it ($2 was worth just the chance to find a non-junk barcode app), and yes, it does let you key in the barcode manually.

I've tried it on about 20 various items so far, and it's only refused to scan 1. None have come back incorrect so far (though it did identify my USB Humping Dog as "USB Dancing Dog" ). I'm impressed, though it was annoying that the 1 it could not scan was pretty much perfect in every way.

I'm on a 3G, and it also does the scanning in real-time. I hated those apps where you had to take a picture of the barcode. Again, good job.

No 2D barcode support, hopefully they'll add that later.

Edit: The very next item I scanned was "xkcd: volume 0". It came up as "Product of Fangamer.net", though the number was scanned correctly. So it looks like a database error, not a scanning error.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 07:19 PM   #8
swissmad
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Better Cameras then?

Now that the camera is becoming a seriously useful part of App Building, perhaps Apple should consider installing slightly better and more serious cameras on the iPhone as opposed to an additional gimmick...
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 07:27 PM   #9
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That works pretty well with iPhone 3G too! (Not tried that app RedLaser but others.)

You just need the Griffin Clarifi hard case, one of the best cases for iPhones, because it protects the camera lens (maybe the only one, an important feature because the lens is very exposed to scratches) and offers an additional closeup lens. I wrote a description (German language) with photos of that case and examples of nice closeup photos made with iPhone 3G:


And there are apps like Evernote and Snappr since quite a while offering text recognition or barcode scanning with that closeup lens. All links inside the article.

Old thread here at MR:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=614682
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Last edited by Habakuk; Oct 16, 2009 at 07:33 PM.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 08:23 PM   #10
tasset
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Darn, I was all set to buy until I got the "requires OS 3.1" message.
Looks good but not give-up-unlock-n-jailbreak good. Back into the pocket goes me $2. Maybe drop the OS requirements Mr. Dev?
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 08:46 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by macduke View Post
For instance, I was at Target yesterday with my wife, and she was having a bad day and wanted her favorite treat: Ritter Sport Marzipan bars. Well they were out of stock and I used this app to scan the code to see if there were any at other stores but it only showed online sources, which didn't really help us much. It did recognize this somewhat obscure (I think German?) brand though.
10 years ago Ritter Sport was obscure. These days you can find em in Wal-Mart. Damn good chocolate though. Not like American chocolate, which tastes as though it were comprised of 50% wax, 40% sugar and 10% cacao.
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Old Oct 16, 2009, 08:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tasset View Post
Darn, I was all set to buy until I got the "requires OS 3.1" message.
Looks good but not give-up-unlock-n-jailbreak good. Back into the pocket goes me $2. Maybe drop the OS requirements Mr. Dev?
You can unlock and jailbreak 3.1 now.
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 01:27 AM   #13
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Well, I just purchased RedLaser and I must admit that it reads barcodes very well on my iPhone 3GS. I tried at least thirty items around my house under a variety of lighting conditions and only one object failed (a foil-wrapped bag of Cheetos). However, perhaps five of those thirty objects came up with no match for either prices or descriptions from the automatic search feature. In those cases they usually identified the manufacturer, but that is all. Also, among the remaining twenty-five items that were matched there were useful prices, descriptions, and/or purchase opportunities for only about twenty of the items. Thus, the success rate for finding useful information after the scan was only about 66% (20 out of 30 items).

It thus seems that the database and/or web search results may be the biggest shortcoming. Still, with a different set of objects the result could change so I'm not ready to give a complete thumbs up or down. The potential is definitely there and for only $1.99 it isn't a bad investment (assuming that the search match improves).

It would also be useful if you could copy the description and use that as an search input to a website of your own choosing (copy/paste doesn't seem to work in the RedLaser application).

Last edited by fpnc; Oct 17, 2009 at 04:10 AM. Reason: Corrected typo
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 01:50 AM   #14
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This App is awesome. This just shows one more thing about how awesome the iPhone is as a tool. Being able to scan a bar code in a store and instantly know what other stores are currently charging for that same item. The capabilities of being constantly connected to the internet with special "App" tools are just beginning. The iPhone has only been around for three years. Consider that computers have been around for decades. The iPhone's capabilities are just getting started. The next five years are going to be incredible.
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 03:09 AM   #15
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this is possably a great and horrid app...

love that it can help you find deals but as a business person/consumer i dread that nickle and dime-ing that i for-see consumers using this as,, " i can get this at a dollar off over hear why are you so expensive".... even worse being in line behind the person who uses this this in this manner. people should do their research at home. uggggggg lines at all retail stores just got even slower...
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Old Oct 17, 2009, 11:46 AM   #16
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This works so well. I loved the JB Beta version. I'm not sure the benefit to the paid version for me, as I used it mostly for making notes of things I wanted to remember. "Hey this is cool. *Scan*"

But it worked so well, I bought it anyway. Hooray awesome developers.
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Old Oct 18, 2009, 03:31 PM   #17
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This app works just fine on 3G and 1st Gen phones, in fact it was a 1G owner who brought it to my attention in the first place.
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Old Oct 18, 2009, 04:45 PM   #18
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I tried this on my 3G and it was very disappointing.
pic2shop (which is free) is doing a much better job.
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 09:52 AM   #19
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I don't have an iPhone yet (Dec. is when my upgrade time comes...WOOT!!), but appz like this are the main reason I am getting one.

My question is this, I want to find a way to record and list all of the many, many books in my library as well as all of the DVD's we have. Will this product do this?
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