back to article Tesco's iPhone app gets barcode reader

Tesco has added the ability to read barcodes to its mobile shopping app - just as it did in 1999, only without bankrupting shoppers. Back in 1999, shoppers were asked to pay more than £200 for a Palm Pilot touting a cumbersome barcode wand, so that super-early adopters could use it to populate their shopping list when the …


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  1. Lottie

    Now if only

    They'd have a live update of what's in their reduced to clear bit I'd love it... and if I had an iphone.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Why do they insist on releasing on a phone that very few people have?

    Luckily I hate tesco so have no desire to use it and will wait for sainsburies/ocado to release a better app on a proper system

    1. Matt.Smart
      Thumb Down


      "Why do they insist on releasing on a phone that very few people have?"

      Are you serious?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I hate to admit it

      but the iPhone is a popular phone. A good few million have been sold.

      And surely any of the reasons to hate Tesco are reasons to hate other supermarkets too?

    3. LuMan

      Very few??

      OK, relatively speaking, there are very few iPhones. But in real terms it's still over [pause for a quick Google....] (at least) 2 million. Not a bad amount of people to try and get into your stores. Plus, the iPhone app is already appearing in TV ads (or is that, Asda..?).

    4. D@v3


      Are you seriously trying to suggest that "very few people" have an iPhone???

      1. Anonymous Coward


        it's called trolling dumbass, and the reg readship is clearly the most trollable lot on the net.

        1. Vehlin
          Thumb Down


          I find it amusing that most people claim to be trolling when someone points out all the holes in their original argument

      2. JaitcH

        Just a way to identify ...


        Works almost every time. Click the red box to indicate another hit.

        If you think The Reg has problems, go check out: < > for an even healthier take on fruit fans.

    5. MrT

      Ha! Nice one...

      Unfortunately, Nectar have also gone down this route (so that's Sainsbury's, BP, Argos etc) and have released an iPhone app that offers 'exclusive offers only available through the app'.

      Sounds a bit like restrictive practices, denying some shoppers the chance to save a few pennies just because they didn't fall for an iPhone, until you realise that iPhone users probably need to feel super special everywhere, and, well, saving a few pennies on Sainsbury's Best Organic table mats might make up for having to spend so much on the handset in the first place...

  3. Ben 47

    Go Ocado

    This is hardly news

    The Ocado app has been able to do this for ages now.

    And has an Android version as well - which also has a voice search built into it

  4. Brian Morrison

    iPhone? iPhone.....?

    Where's their Android app to do the same thing?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does this mean?

    I can scan an item whilst in a rival supermarket and price compare?

  6. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up


    I've been waiting for this, and have a purpose in mind that they probably didn't intend.

    I can now shop by wandering around a Tesco store, scanning all the items I want to buy but without picking them up. Then I can place the order to be delivered to my home.

    If this sounds odd, I don't live near a Tesco but work near one; and I don't have a car.

    What I've always wanted is a compact grocery shop which stocks exactly one of each object (ie. one apple, one bag of sugar), that I can walk round building a shopping list for delivery. This is because, as good as internet shopping is, there's always things I forget until I see them in the shop; or, I want to see/hold an item to see how big it is.

    Genius ;)

  7. Richard 81

    No love for Android

    I'm becoming increasingly annoyed at the lack of app development for Android from companies like this, and the likes of National Rail. Perhaps more annoying is when an app exists for Android but you have to pay for it, whereas the iPhone app is free.

    1. patrick_bateman
      Thumb Up

      Good point

      Internet shopping, you just cant get ya hands on the physical thing to decide you choices.

      Good point, if i didnt have a car or live close thats a very good idea. also you could just tag things for you shop at the end of the week.

    2. Kay Burley ate my hamster


      It's not for people to use!

      It's for people to talk about and say TESCO loads and loads. They are feeding off the iPhone like some kinda brand-centipede.

    3. Lab Monkey

      ugly android

      But android just isnt as sexy as the iPhone. This coming from someone who has an android handset and wouldn't touch apple with a barge pole.

      Most of these big name apps are as much a marketing ploy as a productivity solution. Its easy brand association so you to can shop at tesco's while blindly following the 'rich and fashionable' apple herd.

    4. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Groceries delivered...

      For me, it's easy-peasy.

      Down to Carrefour on the tram.

      Pick up the stuff I want. Make intelligent selections of alternatives to out-of-stock items. Select the specific fruit and veg I want, avoiding the bashed, bruised, or just plain withered-or-mouldy ones. Select the exact pack of cheese, ham, etc. Grab stuff from the deli counter.

      Take it all to the special tills, where a nice man puts it all in delivery tubs.

      Go home, and wait for the stuff to arrive.

      (Just outside Lille, that is...)

      The most "act-of-faith"-y bit is just walking away from the till empty-handed.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Surely bashed, bruised and plain old mouldy fruit/veg has the same barcode as the fruit/veg that you really want?

    5. ian 22


      A StreetView of the interior of a shop! A bit like the virtual weapons shop in 'The Matrix'.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's a public API

      You can easily write your own app to do the same thing for any platform you want. Feel free to get to work. Personally I'm too busy and have a robot butler to look after all that stuff for me anyway

    7. Greg J Preece

      Err, dude?

      "and the likes of National Rail"

      National Rail have an Android app now. The cheeky sods are charging £3.50 (and it was £5 originally) when their site already has a mobile interface, but it's there. Came out in the summer, I believe.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: the likes of National Rail

      You mean something like

      very useful (if only could pursuade them not to have anything running in background for occasional rail users)

    9. elpaw
      Thumb Down


      At least you get free (though ad-supported) Angry Birds

      Still 59p+ on the iPhone

    10. Wize

      Nokia have it on Symbian

      I wonder when the bar code scanner update will come though.

      Not that you can tell if a program is updated on the crap Ovi store.

    11. Dan 10
      Thumb Up


      Good point - between this and the post above, I like the fact that a bunch of geeks will always find further enterprising ways of using it that weren't intended...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Android too??

    cause every little bit helps!

  9. Jeremy Chappell


    Does this ONLY work on the iPhone or can one of those new camera enabled iPod touch thingys work too? (assuming you have WiFi of course)

  10. JasonW

    Now if only

    ... they could manage to pick perishables with use by dates longer than 2 days, fruit & veg that's not bruised & squashed...

    Oh and 6 bottles of beer - in 10 bags! (3 bottles individually wrapped in bags, then dropped in double bagging) x 2

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I want

    is to be able to find things on the shelf which I don't shop for often.

    cocoa for making chocolate cake - home baking or tea and coffee aisle?

    sponge fingers for trifle - next to tinned fruit (fruit goes in trifle) or biscuits (I used to eat them on their own when young)?

    But how do you scan an item that you need because you used the last one up and binned it already?

  12. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward

      There's already an app for that...

      ...called Tesco Finder. You type in the name of what you want to find and lo and behold it will tell you the aisle, unit and shelf level of the item.

      I'll get my coat.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        So can you...

        search for "those spongy things that you put at the bottom of trifles", or does it require an exact match, "Brand Name Superior Sponge Fingers"?

        Yes, mine's the waterproof, insulated outer garment for outdoor wear.

    2. Adam Salisbury

      Yep, good enough

      Good enough according to Tesco-shopping iPhone owners if that's who you want t take recommendations from!

  13. Harry

    "shoppers were asked to pay more than £200 for a Palm Pilot "

    So, how much under £200 is Tesco (or any other vendor) currently asking for outright ownership of an iphone ??

    Cheapest I could find on google shopping was £205 -- and that was for a *USED* ipod.

    Paradoxically, you can get a Buy-It-Now palm pilot for £127.20.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in 1999, shoppers were asked to pay more than £200 for a Palm Pilot...

    Now in 2010 shoppers are asked to pay more than £400 for an iPhone, when they could've just made a java midp app that would have worked on a £15 phone on PAYG.

    I suppose they get the brand kudos - yes - that really is how frigging vacuous we are.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Android VM of iOS

    Anyone feel like making an android app to run i* apps?

  16. Andy 3
    Thumb Up

    iPhone is the best choice

    There seems to be lots of people complaining its not made for their model or brand of phone. The problem is that as much as you may not like it the iPhone is easy to develop for and has an instantly accessible user base with minimal support costs.

    Java apps

    1) You've managed to find some place to download your app. If you've downloaded it straight from your phone then you might be good to go - although I remember having a phone that didn't want apps downloaded directly to it and so you wither had to tweak some security settings or use the horribly written phone sync app provided by the phone manufacturer....

    ....assuming you've got this installed? Find the disc that came with the phone and/or toddle off to the manufacturer’s site. Play hunt the download for the version of software that supports your specific phone model. Does it support your version of Windows, Linux, OSX, whatever? Let's hope so!

    ....if there's no app then the phone might present itself as a drive in Windows and you can simply drag the app files into /usr/applications/installable/java/1.2.4/

    2) OK you've installed your app. What screen res is your app going to be designed to run at? My experience in the past with Java apps has been that the app has been written with phone model 123a in mind but I have phone model 123. My screen res is lower and now the damn app doesn't fit on my screen with half the buttons off the bottom and side. Cue lots of confused and disappointed customers complaining to Tesco that their app is rubbish because it doesn't support their vintage 1995 PAYG phone.

    3) Sorry the camera on your vintage phone is only a 0.5 MP. You need at least a 2 MP camera to scan the barcode. More confused and annoyed people.

    Android Apps

    1) Things seem to be much better, getting apps onto your phone is significantly easier.

    2) However, there's still a problem with the large profusion of different hardware that makes development difficult and expensive. It also increases support costs. I think this is a major barrier for many companies and developers. Which configuration of hardware do you support? Will it be the right choice if manufacturers change the type of hardware they offer in the future?

    iPhone apps

    1) The massive advantage off developing for the iPhone is that the kit is standard. An app written for the iPhone will run on everyone's iPhone (and possibly iPad & iTouch too). There's no multitude of options to support.

    2) The app store is easy to use. It's available on your phone. You search it and the app is downloaded and installed to your phone. Any updates to the app can be pushed out via the app store.

    3) There's a large base of users ready to use your app. Apple customers seem to be more loyal and so if they're going to stick with their brand of phone they're likely to stick with your app for shopping at your store (or potentially buy more apps from you if you're a games developer etc).

    4) Like it or not the iPhone has a 'coolness', desirability, whatever about it. Being brutally honest as good as the Android (and other) phones are they just don't seem to capture the public's imagination as much as iPhones do. Other brands and companies want to be seen to be in the crowd of 'cool' companies. The majority of the population (not computer or technology geeks) will have heard of an iPhone, seen one, or know someone with one. As for Android I imagine the number will be much smaller as the brand awareness, image, and marketing is much less.

    1. Matt.Smart
      Thumb Up


      Well said, that man. Note that I'm not a fanboy/i/whatever, before the flames begin (continue?). I just know common sense when I see it.

  17. UkForest
    Thumb Up

    Old News...

    It's had this for ages... I know because I used it and it was flippin handy.

    Away for a long weekend with the Mrs and kids. The Mrs wanted special wipes for the kid's bum (sensitive skin and all that stuff) as we'd run out....

    Scanned barcode on packaging, then app told me exactly where in the store it was and how much it'll cost.

    Made it easy to dash in and get out.

    A* from me!

  18. DaveDaveDave
    Jobs Halo

    Take it as a compliment.

    Don't know why Android users are knocking the fact that companies go for the iPhone users first. Think about it: on the one hand, you have a group of savvy, value-aware, brand-sceptical phone users, on the other hand a group of premium-paying brand obsessives with much lower priority on value-for-money. I know which I'd try and sell stuff to.

  19. Cunningly Linguistic
    Jobs Horns

    It's all fun until...

    ...Uncle Jobs insists that you cannot use the app to buy condoms, butternut squash, cucumber, Flake and any fruit other than apples.

  20. Phil.A

    iPhone only???

    What's with all of these articles saying "iPhone only" on things like this?

    The new iPod Touch 4G comes with a camera, runs iPhone apps and has 3G connectivity (yes, Apple lieing within branding again), so why can't this run the same app?

    Oh, and as for the "required" £200 outlay, the 8GB version is currently available for about £185 with a discount that they're currently doing (via Amazon), so it's marginally cheaper than the Palm Pilot price, even though if you count inflation, that'd be worth about £400 or so now :-P

  21. cor

    So will they be issuing these iPoons to the cashiers?

    So that they don't have to type in the number under the barcode when their own scanner refuses to read it...? :)


  22. Mike Hanna

    Stunning App

    @Adam Salisbury - this app is for the iPhone-owning Tesco-shoppers, who say that it is good, and you question the fact that iPhone-owning Tesco shoppers have been asked their opinion of the app? Who should have been asked? Android-owning Sainsburys-shoppers, who would say it is useless? You, sir, are a tit.

    We use this app and it is fantastic. It's actually a LOT faster than the web-based Tesco ordering deal. Not sure I'll ever use the bar-code reader.

    Ocado have had a similar app for a while (less the bar code scanner as far as I can tell) and I've only used it once, due to prices.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well, that's saved me some time

    I wondered aloud last night whether I could programme an android app like this so I could replace the stuff I tend to buy repeatedly, like toothpaste, bogroll or ketchup. I wipe my arse on recycled toilet tissue so the ethical issues are minimal.

    BTW, I thought people hated Tesco cos it's historically destroyed town centres (because, er, local people stop buying at their local butcher's etc), although other shops actually thrive or open afresh due to the increased local footfall.

  24. Martin H Watson

    The worst thing...

    ...are the gormless goons (usually male) wandering into people doing thjeir shopping. Let's have an app that gioves Boadicea-knives on shopping trolley wheels.

    1. Mike Hanna

      This is a title

      You could open a whole new market there...

      How about a app that recognises when you let go of the trolley in the middle of the aisle while it is blocking as much of the aisle as possible just to go wander off away from the trolley and spend five minutes deciding whether to go for own-brand cornflakes or proper ones. Then once it recognises that, it either shoots the idiot in the head (assuming line-of-sight is still an option)or, perhaps more mong-customer-friendly, pulls itself to the side of the aisle using magnets or something.

      A app that shouts at fat people when they go towards the cake and biscuit aisle. Perhaps even coupled with some electroshock therapy from the socket in the bottom of the phone.

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