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Camera phone "Scanning" with ScoutPal Live:

Camera Scanning

Works with iPhone
Works with Android

ROV Scanner:

Scan merchandise bar codes into your computer, or into your Bluetooth PDA

(Windows Mobile, Palm, Blackberry)

ROV codes

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"Scanning" with an Android Phone's Camera
(Click here if you have an iPhone)

There is an inexpensive way to use an Android's camera to "scan" book and other merchandise bar codes for fast lookups using ScoutPal Live. If you don't already have an active ScoutPal account, you'll need to Subscribe or begin a Free Trial before you can proceed.

Before you get your Android set up for camera-scanning**, you should first provision it with ordinary keyboard-entry ScoutPal Live bookmark links: simply watch and follow our how-to video #42, titled "Bookmarking on an Android". (Scroll toward the bottom of the page to find it.) The bookmark procedure will: [1] ensure that your account is established and working; [2] give you links to use when camera-scanning is not practical due to lighting or other issues; [3] provide links for lookups with a "real" laser bar code scanner*.

Next, follow the numbered steps below and/or watch our video #51, titled "Android Camera Scanning With ScoutPal Live". The steps will get your Android set up to use your ScoutPal account with the free "Barcode Scanner" app, produced by the ZXing Team.
 ZXing produces the fundamental camera-scan driver library used by nearly every other sort of Android "scanning" app. Not surprisingly, we have found their own free app to be superior in performance and ease of use over the other, derivative apps. Also, please note that the ZXing app referenced on this page is NOT produced by ScoutPal, please review our Terms Of Service regarding links to other websites.

Keep in mind that any camera-based "scanner" app is not a replacement for a true laser bar code scanner*. Instead, it literally snaps a photo of the bar code, so the process will be like taking any other sort of snapshot: there must be good lighting without shadows, and you'll need to hold steady and get the subject into focus. It will take some practice to learn how to use the app.

The set up steps below assume that you already know, in general, how to use Android navigation buttons like [Home], [Menu], and [Back] and that you know how to copy & paste text on the Android.

  1. Use the "app store" on your Android to find and install the free ZXing Barcode Scanner app. Exactly how to do this may vary by phone and cell company. For example, with an LG Ally on Verizon:
    • Press [Home].
    • Look in the phone's app list for Play Store or Market or whatever your phone calls its app marketplace.
    • Search the app marketplace for an app named ZXing Barcode Scanner. (The Search button or icon looks like a magnifying glass.)
    • Install the free ZXing Barcode Scanner application.
  2. Browse to, using the browser on your phone.
  3. Log in (right side of page), then tap on "Additional Service Addresses".
  4. Follow the instructions on that page to put the Android camera-scan link URL into your phone's copy buffer. (You will paste it in the step 8 on this page, below.)
  5. Start the Barcode Scanner app on your phone. Don't try to scan yet.
  6. Press [Menu], choose Settings.
  7. Scroll to (pull up) and choose Custom search URL. You will be presented with a URL entry field.
  8. Paste in the URL you previously copied, using these exact steps:
    1. If the URL field is empty: Touch and hold inside the empty URL field, choose Paste.
    2. If there's already something in the field: Touch and hold the URL field, choose Select all -- touch and hold again, choose Paste.
    3. Because of differences between Android operating system versions and how they are implemented on various phones, you may have to experiment with your particular Android to learn how to past the copied URL in. (As a last resort, you could type it in, see step 10, below.)
  9. Confirm that the URL has  &i=%s at it's tail end. If it doesn't: touch inside the URL so that the cursor is blinking at its tail. Then edit the URL as necessary, so that the &i= part at the end is exactly this: &i=%s (This is important because the %s is what will be replaced with a scanned ISBN/UPC.)
  10. NOTE:  If instead of doing the copy/paste procedure you choose to write down and then laboriously type the URL in by hand (NOT recommended), then you will need to get every single letter, number, dot, colon, slash (/), and other punctuation typed in exactly and perfectly, using all lowercase letters, and no spaces. Although your Android will likely break up the display of the URL into multiple lines, be sure that it's typed in with NO spaces at the beginning, inside, or end of each line. In summary: perfect and exact punctuation -- all lowercase -- no spaces Sorry, but computers and apps are always extremely picky about things like this.
  11. Tap OK. Press [Back] to return to the scanning app, then exit to the home page, then turn the phone off and on again, then start the scanning app.
  12. Aim the camera at any kind of merchandise bar code. (Book, CD, etc.)
  13. After the app captures the bar code, choose Custom Search, ScoutPal live will do the lookup.
  14. Press [Back] to return to the scanning app, then scan another item.
  15. If there is no bar code on the next item you wish to look up, simply type the ISBN or UPC into the search field that's at the top of the last lookup screen, then touch Fetch.

* After trying camera-scanning, you may wish to consider using a compatible true laser scanner, like the Scanfob. Although they can be expensive, there is simply nothing like a real laser scanner! (Hint: it's easy to Velcro® a Scanfob to the bottom of a phone, making a one-handed and compact scanning tool.)

**Note: we have been informed by users that the ZXing app is *NOT* compatible with Verizon's Droid Razr M. (The app won't accept it's own required "%s" custom URL parameter on this particular model phone.)

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