- Excellent barcode scanner
- Nice interface
- Robust food database
- Scanner can be slow to load
Let’s face it -- losing weight is a drag, so anything that can make dieting a little more fun is worth a shot. That’s why I like the Food Scanner app (US$4.99), which uses a barcode scanner to track and record your calorie intake.
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One of the best barcode scanners out there
Like the Lose It! app, Food Scanner is a virtual food journal that keeps track of what you eat each day. I used the app several years ago, but I had a number of complaints that have largely been rectified with this latest version.
To add a food to your daily menu, simply tap the scan icon on the bottom left-hand corner and position the on-screen guides over the barcode. The lines will turn green when the scanner is positioned correctly. After the food is identified, you can select the serving size and add it to a specific meal.
The scanner works remarkably well, and it’s among the best I’ve tested. Barcodes are captured quickly, and the scanner isn’t as sensitive to movement and shaking as other apps. Food Scanner recognized nearly all the foods I tested. When I previously tested the app, I had problems scanning round and shiny items, but that is no longer the case. The only item I had a problem with was a bag of dried mangos -- the scanner apparently didn’t like the glare on the rumpled shiny package.
My only other complaint about the barcode scanner is that it can be slow to load at times, which forces you to quit the app and start again. That only happened a few times during my testing, but it's annoying.
Robust food database
Of course, not all foods have a UPC barcode, so the Food Scanner app has a manual entry where you can add items like fruit, vegetables, fish, and meat. The database is robust, and includes everything from McDonald’s French fries to obscure produce like lychees and cherimoya -- I literally could not stump the Food Scanner app.
On your homepage, Food Scanner displays everything you ate for that day with an overall calorie total. Unlike previous versions, the app now displays foods under specific meals (breakfast, snack, lunch, etc.) instead of grouping them into one list. I also like that most foods have a small thumbnail picture, which brightens up the app and makes it easy to scroll through a long list of items.
You can view meals from previous days, but the app doesn’t include weight loss or fitness goals. For that, you’ll need to sign up for a free account with DailyBurn.com, where you can view detailed reports, track your exercise totals, and record your weight loss progress.
The Bottom Line
Food Scanner isn’t necessarily a better app than Lose It!, but the barcode scanner is a unique feature that makes it fun to use. Is the scanner worth paying $5 for when you can download Lose It! for free? That is up to you, but I recommend the FoodScanner app if it will keep you motivated to track your calorie intake or if you already use DailyBurn.com. Otherwise, Lose It is a better deal. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
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