Those ubiquitous QR codes may get all the trendy tech love these days, but the humbler Universal Product Code — or barcode, as it's better known — has some creative life left in it yet. An iPhone app called Barcodas turns any UPC code into a electronic instrument: just scan it with the iPhone's camera, and those black bars jump to musical life like a tiny player piano. Since almost everything on earth has one of these barcodes pasted on it somewhere, you'll never be at a loss for musical inspiration.
QR codes are popular elsewhere in the world, and catching on in the U.S., but one barrier to common use is the need for a special app on a smartphone to read them. Not a problem now, as even dumbphones can do the trick.
Just as Rupert Murdoch's iPad-only The Daily is trying to refresh news journalism for the digital age, USA Today is launching a desperate bid to remain relevant by adding printed data tags to every daily print section.
Bing just upped its effort in the search engine war against Google with an updated iPhone app. Just in time for iOS4's firmware update, the app has a bunch of tweaks, but one, real Google-beater: Barcode scanning for quick product IDs.
We already know Google wants to be everything for everyone in search. Now they're extending that goal into the real world, sticking physical tags on the windows of actual businesses from its online Favorite Places catalog. Should Foursquare be worried about Google's intrusion?