Free vs. Paid vs. Enterprise-Grade Apps

Posted by Kim Justesen on Mar 23, 2020 5:00:00 AM
Kim Justesen

:One of These Things is Not Like the Other


The advent of smartphones has revolutionized our modern economy. Their versatility and smaller size mean they can travel from location to location and are less bulky and awkward than a laptop or a cart with a desktop. These advantages make them highly desirable for a number of different industries; however, there are some drawbacks to these modern miracles as well. They are prone to damage if they are dropped; they don’t have as much memory as a desktop or laptop (though that is changing), and there are several functions they simply aren’t as good at compared to traditional computers and software..

One of the many functions that smartphones are capable of is barcode scanning. The built-in camera can capture barcodes, and with the proper software installed or app downloaded, can interpret the barcode and reveal the data within. Because of this advanced capability, industries ranging from retail, to warehousing, to healthcare have turned to smartphones as an option for their scanning needs.


image-9Unfortunately, most barcode scanning apps are ill-equipped to handle truly enterprise-grade scanning requirements.  Many scanning apps were created for the purpose of reading QR codes in marketing campaigns. The novelty of scanning a code with your cell phone and being directed to a website was the height of technology and creative advertising for a time. While the QR code still exists and is widely used, the algorithms used in the app software were not really designed to handle anything more complex.

Those algorithms are key to effective barcode scanning, whether it’s using a smartphone or a scanning device specifically designed for that purpose. Algorithms, the heart of the scanning software, are what truly determines the effectiveness of a device used for scanning. The software that powers the device is the critical factor behind successful scanning workflows. Algorithms are the mathematical instructions that direct electronic devices to follow certain commands and perform functions. Every app available to download is a set of instructions for your phone or computer to follow. They are what allow your cellphone to be a camera, a video recorder, a television screen, or just a phone.

blobApps available for free download have been somewhat successful, but they also suffer from some significant flaws. Most of the free apps are created for very basic scanning needs such as price comparison, limited product identification, or asset location. For these low-demand needs, a free app may be all an individual or company needs. The fact that they can be had for free is good; however, the old adage “You get what you pay for,” might be applicable here. There are more than 40 types of barcode symbology, and it’s unlikely that a software developer creating free downloadable apps is going to be familiar with all of them. Given that new symbologies are being developed regularly, it’s even less likely that a free app programmer is going to be able to keep up with the ever-changing codes.

Highly specific barcode scanning needs require even greater assurance that the software is capable of performing as needed. In hospital settings, lives depend on the speed and accuracy of barcode scanning. The algorithms must be able to instantly read and interpret the barcode, even if it’s on a shiny surface or stuck in among other barcodes. No free, downloadable app can guarantee “first time, every time” accuracy.


Soft-Scanning Mobile App Icon - Black 180 x 182 (Sales)When it comes to barcode scanning on an enterprise scale, it’s wise to look for apps designed by companies whose primary business is barcode scanning. Companies like Code® produce barcode scanning software that will read all the symbologies currently in use. Our computer scientists are among the best in the world at creating algorithms that capture exactly the data you need. They can optimize the information according to whether you’re using a smartphone, tablet, or barcode scanning device. They can also include programming that helps your device scan in low or bright light, from odd angles, at greater distances, on reflective surfaces, and even read damaged or smudged barcodes.

There are many free apps that can perform well within limited parameters. If the scanning demands of your company are narrow, this may be an acceptable way to go. However, if your needs are broader than just one or two barcodes being read, or if you are looking for performance that expands your capabilities, Code offers a number of consumer apps and enterprise apps for consumer devices.  We can help you determine what your needs are and show you how we can best meet them.


CODE-LOGO-BLACK-RED-TRANSPARENT-01Contact us today to learn more about the options available to help improve your unique circumstances. Call us at: 801-495-2200, or visit to see all the options available to you.

Topics: barcode scanning, barcode, Code, mobile barcode scannning, barcode scanning software, Code Corporation, Mobility, Manufacturing, Manufacturing barcode scanning, healthcare barcode scanning, bedside point of care, data parsing, mobile protection, Cortex Decoder

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