updated 08:50 pm EST, Tue December 13, 2011
Available on Android now, iOS & Windows Phone soon
Microsoft has added support to read more barcodes to its Microsoft Tag app. In addition to its own Tag code, the reader is now supporting QR codes and near-field communications (NFC). The additions significantly widen the reach to cover both more popular formats as well as to take advantage of certain Android phones' NFC support.
Microsoft's specific addition of QR helps make it easier for merchants who are faced with the problem of supporting multiple barcode schemes, as well as a way of consolidating multiple code scanners into one for the actual users.
The updated app for Android devices is available now (free, Android Market) and needs Android 2.3 or later to use the NFC hooks. Microsoft is promising an update for Windows Phone 7.5 and iPhones "soon."
The added NFC functionality is currently of limited use to Windows Phone owners. While NFC support is now available on a few recently released Android hones, there is no Microsoft phone available today that has the hardware to run it. Apple is rumored to offer NFC support some time next year.