Software & Apps

How Do Barcode Scanner Apps Work?

Barcode Scanner App

Look around in your nearby market, and you will find every product labeled with a barcode. The consumers can scan provided codes with barcode scanner apps and gather the desired information. Ever wondered how barcode scanner apps work? If yes, then stay tuned.

Quick Answer

A barcode scanner app turns your smartphone into a digital scanner. All you need is to download and install a reliable scanning app. The app detects the product by decoding its UPC or EAN barcode and opens the product web page. The barcodes are linear and easier to interpret on scanning apps.

With barcode scanning apps, you can identify, schedule, and purchase any product anywhere. They keep you updated about its features, efficiency, and availability. These apps have certainly revolutionized retail and consumer-based businesses around the world.

Let’s understand how these apps work.

How Do Barcode Scanner Apps Work?

A barcode scanning app is software to convert your smartphone into a scanning utility. The apps are available for both Android and iOS users. Users can download these apps from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. 

With these apps, you don’t need to carry a scanner to every place you visit. Your mobile phone acts like a scanner for you. There are more than 6.648 billion smartphone users around the world. With these apps, 83% of the world’s population can scan barcodes. No regular optical scanner could have achieved this success.    

To comprehend how these apps work, we must first understand the basics of barcodes.

What Is a Barcode?

A barcode is an image of a product’s parallel black lines and white spaces. Every barcode represents a unique product. The idea behind the pattern is simple; give every item you want to classify a specific number, make a pattern, and then print it on the product. The barcode will act as the premiere identity mark.

These patterns are machine-readable, which digital devices can easily interpret. Each decimal number (0-9) is given a horizontal space of 7 units. The varying patterns of vertical black and white stripes determine the designated number.

A mobile scanner identifies the correct number by decoding its pattern. For example, the combination for number 1 is two white, two black, two white, and one black strip. While number 2 consists of two white stripes, one black stripe, two white stripes, and two black stripes.

How Does a Mobile Scanning App Interpret a Barcode?

We have discussed how a mobile app identifies the product code decimals from a barcode. This section explains what gives a product code its meaning.

A product code is a unique set of numbers provided to every product ready for sale. A product number is extravagantly long, revealing all essential information about a product. The mobile scanning app accesses barcodes to interpret this data.

All product codes are provided as per international standards. The first part of a product code represents the country of origin. The next part is the company details, followed by product identity and a confirmatory number.

Once the scanning app unlocks this pattern, the user is guided toward the right product page. The process is quick and without any human intervention. It ensures a 100% success rate.

Currently, two principal product codes are being used worldwide: UPC and EAN. Let’s understand how they work and what differentiates them.

Differences Between UPC Codes vs. EAN Product Codes

UPC stands for Universal Product Code. The code consists of 12 digits, granted to every retail item from the manufacturer. The first 6 digits represent the manufacturer. The following 5 digits show the product details, and the last digit is a check digit

It is important to note that the product number for a 6-Pack of Lays will differ from a 12-Pack. The code is applicable in the US and Canada.

On the other hand, EAN stands for European Article Number. It is a universal barcode used worldwide except in the US and Canada. An EAN consists of 13 digits revealing information about company origins, product number, and check digit.

The mobile scanning apps can identify UPC and EAN numbers by deciphering the barcodes.

How To Scan a Product With Barcode Scanning Apps

A barcode can be easily scanned with a scanning application. You only need a quality scanning app compatible with your smartphone’s operating system.

After that, follow these small steps.

  1. Go to the mobile’s home screen and open your barcode scanning app.
  2. Open the camera and scan the barcode present on your product.
  3. Once the scanning is successful, the app will show you the product URL.
  4. Tap the URL to visit the product page.

If the scan fails, you need to adjust your camera angles so the app can recognize the pattern.

The Bottom Line

Barcodes have changed the complexion of retail businesses. You don’t have to verify the authenticity of a product or its manufacturer anymore. You need to scan the barcode, and the product will reveal itself. With the barcode scanning app, you can scan any product worldwide.

Barcode scanning apps are available on both Android and Apple smartphones. You only need to download and install the right application on your phone. The scanning app will scan the barcode to unlock your product’s UPC or EAN product code. After that, it will guide you to the product page, where you can see all the details provided by the manufacturer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many barcodes are possible?

Barcodes utilize linear widths to represent 12 or 13 digits. The number of possible combinations amounts to 10^13. A manufacturer has to use a unique number from available combinations.

Can a barcode start with 0?

Yes, it can. Many 13-digit EAN barcodes begin with 0. These EAN products are 12-digit products assuming a pre-penned 0. Since retailers outside the US and Canada use EAN standards, a 0 has been added to complete the numeric count.

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