About a year ago Microsoft released an iPhone app called Tag. It allowed users to scan Microsoft’s own 2D barcode format, often referred to as Microsoft Tag. Now that app is available on Google’s Android platform as well. This is the first app Redmond has made for the Android OS, and given the frosty relationship between Google and Microsoft, it comes as a bit of a surprise.
This is also of interest given that Android already makes good use of a different 2D barcode format, the QR code. Android users already use apps like Barcode Reader and Google Goggles to read those codes. The Microsoft Tag codes are small square images like QR codes, but unlike QR codes they make use of color to encode information. Scanning them can direct users to websites, provide coupons, or provide just display text.
It’s nice to see that Microsoft isn’t eschewing Android completely in anticipation of their upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series devices. The question though: have you ever actually seen one of these Microsoft Tags? QR codes are more widespread, and Android already makes use of them. Still, the Microsoft Tag app is free, and in the Market if you want it. Just scan the QR code below with an Android phone if you wish... oh the irony.
Awesome! That image rocks! Where did it come from? Can I get it a size bigger and make it my desktop wallpaper?
Such are the common questions you might ask yourself should you stumble across an awesome picture on the Internet. And until now, there's been no clear way to search for an identical version of an image across the Web. No, a Google search for the image's characteristics doesn't count--good luck trying to find the one shot of a red balloon you're looking for in a sea of thousands.
The Mozilla Firefox add-on TinEye Reverse Image Search uses a novel method for finding copies of said image across the Internet. Whenever you submit an image to be searched, the accompanying site--tineye.com--assigns a digital fingerprint to the picture. It then looks for similar fingerprints across its archive of collected images, allowing the site (or your add-on) to pull up partial or exact matches for the image you've searched for. In that sense, you're not just looking for images that are similar to your picture in terms of coloration or subject. You're looking for exact copies, crops, or scaled versions of the shot.
How well does TinEye Reverse Image Search actually work in practice? Click the jump to find out!
It can be a real pain in the butt to go from browsing a Web page on your desktop or laptop to pulling up said page on your mobile phone. The process usually involves texting or emailing the URL to yourself or, if you're a real masochist, manually typing in the URL using your phone's built-in keyboard (or worse yet, T9-based keypad). Even converting the URL to a bit.ly or a goo.gl link still requires you to actually spend time fidgeting with your phone to get to the page. No matter what, this process just isn't very fun.
Not very fun, that is, until I stumbled across the Mobile Barcoder add-on for Firefox. With but the quick hit of a button, you can convert any Web page you're looking at into one of those neat cube QR codes. Depending on your phone, you can then use a built-in or downloaded application to scan said QR code directly from your monitor. Without a single press of a letter or number button, you'll have the page you were just looking at right in your phone's mobile browser.
Neat, eh? Click the jump to find out where to get this awesome add-on!
Microsoft has released a free iPhone app called TagReader. It happens to be the software bellwether’s second iPhone app after SeaDragon Mobile. Using TagReader, iPhone users can photograph a tag (Microsoft’s vivid version of barcodes) to search for information related to that particular tag without having to type in anything.
If you snap a tag on a person’s visiting card using the TagReader iPhone app, then your search will, in all likelihood, yield results related to that person. The app sounds fun from the off, but its usefulness is contingent upon the success of Microsoft Tag, which is currently in beta. You can create your own tags here and eventually test the usefulness of TagReader by snapping them.