Amazon’s Flow App Brings Barcode Scanning & Augmented Reality To Android Users

Amazon Flow, the barcode scanning/augmented reality app from Amazon subsidiary, has arrived on Android today, following its November 2011 iOS debut. To refresh your memory, the app lets shoppers scan things like CDs, DVDs, books, toys, video games, and more using their smartphone’s camera in order to display product details and pricing info.

Barcode scanning, however, is not unique to Amazon Flow – the feature is also available in Amazon’s flagship application, which is the more popular of the two. But Flow does something special – it supports an augmented reality view of some products, which uses image recognition techniques to show movie trailers and other media previews.

While not available for all products supported in Flow, the AR view integrates a live camera display with graphical overlays. The idea is that while considering your purchase of a DVD, for example, you could pull out your phone and “scan” the cover to start the trailer. In practice, the process for doing so is not really any easier or more complicated than scanning the barcode, so it’s more of showy option than a true convenience, to be honest.

Although not first to get the application, Android users are getting a feature the iOS version lacks – support for QR codes. (The current version of the app only supports UPC barcodes.) With this option, the app becomes far more practical. QR codes, found  in advertisements, in magazines, movie posters, and more allow mobile users to not just price check, but also perform actions like launching websites, connecting to Wi-Fi networks, or adding contacts to their address book. Likely, the QR code feature will make its way over to iOS in a later release, which then positions it against incumbents like eBay’s RedLaser and comparison shopping app ShopSavvy.

The app is available now in Amazon’s Appstore and the Android Market Google Play store.