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Scanning applications for smartphones

Once QR codes started cropping up in public places, software developers responded by introducing a host of options for scanning the codes. Some scanning apps (particularly free ones) are oriented toward retail items, while others are more bare-bones in their approach; as a rule of thumb, the more expensive an app is, the less likely it is to be ad-supported, though of course, there are always exceptions, and your mileage may vary. Each scanning app’s compatibility with any asset management software you’re using will also vary.

A few reputable scanning apps:
QR Scanner
With QR codes, all it would take to identify this bike is one of these apps, like ScanLife or Barcode Scanner, and a smartphone.

Barcode Scanner(Android)– A bare-bones interface masks a cool app. Barcode Scanner allows you to watch it processing images by superimposing transient yellow dots over the places it's examining for data. Results are exportable via SMS or email; usefully, the app also gives you a chance to disallow it from opening up a browser window, giving the paranoid an added layer of security. A favorite of the bunch, but unfortunately, it's not available for iPhone.

RedLaser (iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone) – This eBay-produced app comes loaded with marketing opportunities – users must opt out to prevent it from automatically thumbing through local listings, a feature that might displease those who don't like their location being revealed. But RedLaser does have other advantages – it picks up QR codes almost instantaneously, and instead of using a confusing red line like some other apps, a handy rectangle shows you exactly when your code is readable. Results can be exported via email or read as URLs.

ShopSavvy (iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone)– Another shopping-oriented app, ShopSavvy lacks some of the functionality of other apps – it automatically opens URLs that it scans, and as its name suggests, it's primarily oriented at local searches for particular goods close to the user. Although it gives off a satisfying double beep as it scans (which it does lightning-fast), it's really a single-purpose app and lacks the flexibility of the others. Avid shoppers may find it irresistible.

ScanLife’s free QR code reading app is remarkably flexible, and while it doesn’t ask permission before opening up URLs, the fact that it can do anything from opening up VCARD contact details to reading plain text makes it a winner in our book. QR codes come in varying densities, and we’ve found that ScanLife is particularly good at reading dense codes – and that’s a feature other apps lack. You can use ScanLife to scan QR codes with their Blackberry, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone or Nokia Ovi-enabled phone, but if you’re planning on using QR tags for marketing or advertising purposes, ScanLife also has an extensive track record of helping coordinate 2D code-related marketing efforts for huge players like Pledge, UPS, Intel, Reuters, and Nike. You don’t need to pay for their scanning management services to take advantage of ScanLife’s technical acumen, though!