Ask LH: Are There Any Good Android Shopping Apps For Aussies?

Ask LH: Are There Any Good Android Shopping Apps For Aussies?

Dear Lifehacker, I have recently got with the current century and have an Android phone. Love it! But the thing that is missing for me is a good Australia-enabled shopping program. I would like to be able to scan barcodes, create and maintain shopping lists, and sync with an online website where I can also manipulate the list. I’d also like to be able to compare prices amongst stores. I have seen apps aplenty to do all or part of these in the US market – are there any focused on Australia? Thanks, Droppa Docket

Dear Droppa,

If a reader can tell us about a previously undisclosed shopping application for Android that handles local products and barcodes, I’ll shout excitedly from the rooftops (or at least write a pretty lengthy post about it). But I’m not altogether hopeful, because there’s no easily accessible centralised resource of Australian barcode data for developers to access, which means that it’s far from a trivial task to build any kind of app centred on Aussie shoppers.

For proof, you only need to look at eBay’s recently launched iPhone app, which includes scanning features. eBay obviously isn’t short of a buck or two and should be able to access useful barcode data pretty easily, but in our tests on Australian products, it failed every single time.

The team behind Scan2list — a locally-developed shopping app for the iPhone — is working on an Android client, and right now that looks like our next best hope for this space. Scan2list isn’t perfect, but its coverage is a lot broader than anything else out there I know of. Until then, unfortunately, it seems we’re stuck with US-centric apps. (Somebody please prove me wrong!)

Cheers Lifehacker


  • No, yeah, you’re right. A year ago I started working with a US developer on their Android shopping app and I looked into the barcode fiasco. The only way to get a list is to pay $1500+ per quarter for a subscription, and even that won’t guarantee any real success in hit rates with your general products.

    This is similar to the fiasco with Australian electronic programming guides for TV – it’s controlled by a monopoly/duopoly/corporate interests.

    An app could be developed that uses user input into a centralised, open database, but it would require a huge user community to make it worthwhile. Not impossible, just too much effort for any small developer to invest time and energy in.

  • Jumping straight from my last comment about how much I am liking Springpad – it actually fits the bill here for everything but price comparison. The Android app for Springpad allows you to wand barcodes (though usual problem of it not recognising any Australian products but perhaps this can be influenced by some loud aussie feedback?) but it lets you create notebooks, task lists, notes, bookmarks and is of course available via the web.

  • I’ve been looking for the same thing, got an android phone a couple of weeks ago and have been trying out different scanners trying to find one that works well here.

    The best one I think is RedLaser. I’ve tried it out with a few things lying around on my desk…a copy of Microsoft office which returned a price from Officeworks, Civilization 5 from ozgameshop and a text book which listed a couple of online bookshops, ebay and also a few libraries which have the book. Very impressive.

    Only thing I’m not sure on is that it only returned 1 result, I dont know if thats because it only found 1 or its just showing the cheapest, but it would be nice if it could show a few places so you can get a comparison.

  • Even though I don’t shop there, I just downloaded the Woolies shopping app because it gives me the ability to scan aussie barcodes and at least create a general shopping list. As I said, I don’t shop there, so the aisle information provided when it searches my nearest store is pretty useless but for the sake of not having to manually manipulate a paper list, it does the job.

  • I found they all had more features than I needed which made them hard to read or hard to use. My phone has a particularly small screen (Ideos 8150) which seems to often cause a problem. So I ended up writing one myself. It is specifically designed to be simple to set up and simple to use. It’s called “Easy as ABC shopping list” and is on the android market as a free app if you want it.

  • Just needs to be crowd sourced updateable database with bar code scanner, shopping list and what’s in the pantry list that can easily be shared ie wife to husband, that’s it, no other crap. Pretty hard to populate a database if someone doesn’t build it though.

  • Why cant all the weekly prices and specials from woolies, coles, bilo, aldi and where ever else be available online somewhere for an app to access then compare and update weekly? Thats all I want to know. Where is my shopping list going to be the cheapest? It would need a geographical map and maybe fuel prices too. Im sure the aisles might change everynow and again. But pricing should be a weekly input for these companies. The other apps have great qualities ie pantry list and recipes for what u have in the cupboard. Also healthier alternatives and different brands and similar products (due to size or use). But I have a basic list lots of the time and cant believe the difference between store to store pricing. I want a rounded number of what my shopping will cost between stores. And maybe information that there is a fruit store, butcher, bakery or tobacconist close aswell (then that would be the only walking I would have to go between to check prices. If an app comes out in Australia for android I really want to know. I hate shopping. And this would be my perfect in out app to make shopping a breeze

  • 8 years after this article and I’m still searching at the end of 2019! This is SUCH a gap in the market. If I knew the first 3 things about app development I’d get on it and do a crowd funding campaign to develop it, sadly it’s not my area of knowledge. Best I’ve got is Out of Milk but that doesn’t scan any barcodes I’ve tried and all prices have to be put in manually. Honestly if like 500 people scanned 10 items each we’d cover most products in both Coles and Woolworths to get it started and people could just advise of their store and any price different they find when they shop. Odds are you’d only find 1-2 per shop because someone else would have found others. You could get a mark when something’s been reported as different and when it gets to say 5 clarifications in that store it’s marked as a community confirmed price. Easy. Why hasn’t anyone done it?!

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