The updated 2.1 version of eBay’s iPhone app adds support for reading barcodes, making it easier to comparison shop for similar items on the site or to list your own items for sale. That’s a great idea in theory, but in our tests it totally failed to be of any use.
Recognising Australian barcodes isn’t a barrier that many apps aspire to; the only recent example we’ve seen is Scan2List. To see how well eBay could cope, I tried scanning half-a-dozen locally sold items with barcodes on them: a book, a game, a DVD, a CD, a magazine and a photo frame from IKEA.
The app does a good job of identifying the barcode via the iPhone camera (you don’t need to click to actually take a picture, which is useful). However, not one of the six items I tried was actually recognised by the eBay app.
In five out of six cases, the response was what you can see in the picture: “no product information found”. For the IKEA item, I got told that the barcode type was unsupported. While that’s not entirely surprising given IKEA’s global manufacturing approach, it also seems like a pretty big omission.
No bar code system is likely to have a 100% recognition rate, but 0% is leaning way too far in the other direction. The app is free, so if you give it a try and get better results, we’d love to hear about it in the comments.
eBay [iTunes App Store]