Barcode Assistant Hits 20K Downloads!

Barcode Assistant vCardAfter releasing Barcode Assistant two weeks ago on Mobihand (and just one week on App World), there have been over 20,000 downloads!

We are so thankful for everyone who has downloaded Barcode Assistant! There are so few barcoding apps for BlackBerry, and hopefully Barcode Assistant is filling that gap . The fact that you can create barcodes with Barcode Assistant has probably been the biggest item we’ve heard back about.

Over these past two weeks, we’ve received approximately 30 support requests (less than 1%). We take pride in responding to every support request, and we have found some repeating requests from most of the support questions. I thought I would address those issues here to hopefully help others who may have the same issues:

BlackBerry Bold 9700

  • The Bold 9700 running OS 5.0 doesn’t seem to like the default camera setting (640×480). Barcode Assistant does have the option to change the camera resolution on the settings screen. By changing the camera resolution to 1024×768, people have been reporting that the camera/scans work on the 9700. In the next update, the 9700 will default to 1024×768.

BlackBerry Devices Running BB6

  • A great feature of BB6 is automatically scanning barcodes. The problem people have had with scanning barcodes has mainly been due to being too close to the barcode. The scan uses pattern recognition to find the barcode, and uses the camera’s autofocus while searching. While the scan is active, the LED blinks red. If the LED stops blinking, then it isn’t searching anymore. The most common reason is that the camera can’t focus on the image (being too close). Simply moving the BlackBerry slowly away from the barcode seems to reactivate the scanning process and captures the image.

BlackBerry Curves

  • The Curve doesn’t have autofocus. This means that the image has to be in focus on the screen prior to pressing a button and capturing the image (OS 5.0). If using BB6 on a 93xx Curve, the scan is still automatic, but still needs the image to be in focus by moving the Curve away from the barcode.
  • Changing the camera resolution to 1024×768 seems to help Curves (OS 5.0) as well. Since the Curve has to be far enough away to focus on the barcode, using a larger image to process helps have enough detail to process.

Hit or Miss Scanning (5.0)

This is one of those things I have heard from some of the forums. It seems to be only a problem with 5.0, and there is a reason for that.

OS 5.0 only allows us to process a captured image. Pressing the trackpad/trackball/screen activates autofocus, then captures one single image for processing. A scan can fail for several reasons:

  • The image is not in focus (common for Curves).
  • The image is skewed and doesn’t look square (shooting at an angle).
  • The image is at an angle (rotated) and is not straight on the screen.
  • The image has too much contrast or looks overexposed (usually from scanning another BlackBerry screen).

All it takes is something to interfere with the quality of the scanned image causing the scan to fail. While testing the 4.6 OS version on a Pearl Flip, it took many many tries to get an image to scan. Quite often, the image was out of focus, or the white sections flared over the darker sections of the barcode. The image quality was awful. I had to make sure the light around me was bright enough to get a good quality image, and that the screen I was scanning didn’t overpower the dark parts of the barcode. The Pearl Flip also doesn’t have autofocus, so I had to make sure I was far enough away for the barcode to be in focus – I was capturing around 12″ away to get a good scan (using 1024×768).

With BB6, the scanning process is automatic. It uses the video camera to capture multiple images. Individual frames are scanned for the barcode over and over until a successful scan has been recorded. By the time it finds a successful scan, it may have process several images that have failed (you just don’t see the failed frames).

Hopefully these tips help those who were having problems getting scans to work. The very low number of support requests tells us we have created a product that has been well received.

THANK YOU to everyone who has downloaded Barcode Assistant! We’re working on an update to include some feature requests, as well as supporting more devices. Don’t forget to follow us on twitter for news and announcements about upcoming versions and other applications!

This entry was posted in Announcements, News.