- Ratings on more than 65,000 products
- Finds healthier alternatives for food items
- Highlights questionable ingredients
- Scanner is finicky
- Database could be bigger
Most iPhone shopping apps are designed to help you find a good deal and save some money. That’s a worthy goal to be sure, but the GoodGuide app (Free) is unique -- it helps you identify products and companies that are “safe, healthy and sustainable.”
Finding product information
GoodGuide includes product ratings for more than 65,000 products, including everything from baby food to household cleaners. Each product is rated on health, environmental, and social criteria. For example, if you’re interested in a particular lipstick, the GoodGuide app can alert you to questionable ingredients, animal testing, and other factors that may influence your purchasing decision.
When you first launch the app, it goes through a rather lengthy process of updating the product database, which takes about a minute. One way to find information on a given product is via GoodGuide’s search feature. You can also browse categories, including food, personal care, household cleaners, and toys. Products are then broken down into sub-categories. Under personal care, for example, you can find entries for baby lotion, bubble bath, or deodorant. Within each subcategory, you’ll find a list of ingredients to avoid and the highest rated products in that category.
Like many iPhone shopping apps, GoodGuide also includes a barcode scanner -- yay! (There are few things I enjoy more than scanning barcodes with my iPhone.) Simply tap "Scan Barcodes" and position your iPhone’s camera over the barcode until it’s visible within the guidelines on the display. When the guidelines turn green, hold your phone still until it scans. If the barcode doesn’t come up in the GoodGuide database, an alert will pop up that allows you to suggest it for inclusion. Once your product is displayed, you can view the ratings, add it to a shopping list, or find it on Amazon.com.
The scanner is awesome when it works. It easily scans barcodes on flat boxes, but round or shiny objects present a challenge. One tip: Put the object you are scanning on a flat surface and hold your iPhone with two hands to steady the camera. If you’re having problems, you can also search by product name instead of scanning the barcode.
I love using the GoodGuide app for food shopping. I scanned a box of Wheat Thins, for example, and got a full list of ingredients and nutrition facts. The best part? Underneath the listing, you can find healthier alternatives that are lower in saturated fat, lower in sodium, etc. It doesn’t always find good alternatives -- it depends on how many items are in that category -- but it’s pretty cool when it works.
The Bottom Line
It may not be perfect, but GoodGuide is still a good free app to add to your arsenal. Even though the database doesn’t contain every item under the sun, the app has a lot of good information on companies and products you can feel good about supporting with your hard-earned money. The scanner can be finicky on round or shiny items, but I still recommend the GoodGuide app overall. Overall rating: 4 stars out of 5.
What You’ll Need