RedLaser is a cool little barcode scanning app that may change the way you shop. The way it works couldn’t be easier. Simply hit the “scan” button and point your iPhone’s camera at a barcode (no autofocus camera required). RedLaser then looks up that barcode using Amazon and Google Product Search to show online listings for that exact product complete with prices. Awesome, right?
Editor’s note: Although RedLaser supports many versions of the Amazon store, it may not work on non-US barcodes.
The first thing I noticed about RedLaser is that its barcode scanning technology works like magic. Many of my scans were taken while I wasn’t entirely still or on axis. The barcode does however need to be right-side up in order for it to work properly. The developers caution against having glare or shadows, but I haven’t had a problem with either. I’ve even been able to scan that itty bitty barcode seen on the Snow Leopard box! Even cooler, the developers also claim that you don’t need an autofocusing camera for it to work (I’ve only tried it on my iPhone 3GS).
One great thing about RedLaser is that you don’t have to take a picture of a barcode to scan it. All you need to do is hold your iPhone’s camera up to the barcode, make sure it’s aligned with the on-screen guides, and it’ll beep when the code is detected. Unfortunately there’s no rapid-input mode, so scanning several items will require you to hit “scan,” scan the item, go back, and then repeat the process all over again. For those barcodes that don’t scan in easily, RedLaser also includes a manual entry mode.
After scanning something, RedLaser automatically searches both Amazon and Google Product Search for the item on the web. I found that (as you’d expect) most of the items I scanned at a local Best Buy were available online for less than they were in the store, making it an awesome accessory for bargain hunters. If you’re looking for a second opinion on something before you buy, you can easily view the product on Amazon using RedLaser’s built-in WebView to check out user reviews. Of course you can buy it right on the spot using your Amazon account. RedLaser will also let you email a link to the item.
The one thing that disappointed me about RedLaser’s product search is that it doesn’t have iTunes support. I’d love to wander around a Best Buy or Barnes & Noble, find an album or two, and pop it up in iTunes with RedLaser. Moreover you can’t copy info out of RedLaser to search in a browser or anywhere else for that matter.
Arguably the most important feature of RedLaser is that it saves everything you scan, much like Shazam [App Store, Free] does for music. And because you can email the list of scanned items, the number of possible uses is pretty exciting; wish lists, wedding registries, or just a simple list of reminders to name a few. Unfortunately there’s no search or sorting (besides chronological) for this list, so you may spend some time hunting for something in particular.
For all you developers out there, the RedLaser guys have set up an SDK that’ll let 3rd parties add their super duper scanning technology to your app. Coupons.com has already added the technology to its Grocery iQ [App Store, $0.99] app.
Overall, RedLaser works incredibly well and does a great job of helping you find deals on the web. We highly recommend it.