Microsoft Tag reader comes to Android

Microsoft Tag

Microsoft has released its first ever app on mobile rival Google's Android platform.

Microsoft Tag acts as a mobile barcode scanner. The phone's camera scans a unique pattern of coloured triangles the Tag and the user is then able to navigate to a web page related to the graphic.

The app, which is already available on Windows Mobile, the Apple iPhone, Blackberry, J2ME and Symbian S60, is a free download from Android Market and works on any handset with a built-in camera.

Microsoft and Google have become direct competitors in a number of technology markets, with Google's Chrome browser and operating system going head to head with Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Windows 7, and Android joining Windows Mobile on the mobile front over the last 18 months.

However, Microsoft says making apps like Tag available across multiple platforms made more sense than restricting it to just Microsoft's own Windows Mobile.

"It's important to give more people access to Tag because there's huge demand for mobile barcoding," Microsoft digital marketing manager Benjamin Gauthey wrote on the Microsoft Tag blog.

However, the Tag app itself whether on Android or another mobile OS is arguably less significant than the ecosystem behind it.

There are already a fair number of free barcode and QR code scanners on the market, but what makes Microsoft's system stand out is that users can create their own Tags codes for free.

They can be set to carry a text message, trigger a web browser link or dial a phone number, and can be rendered in various image formats in sizes ranging from 0.75in up to 120in.

Every tag created is treated as a campaign, and users can track all kinds of information, including the type of content it links to and how many times it has been scanned.

Potential applications for the technology go far beyond simply linking to a retail site to buy a product online. Tags can be used as a springboard to all kinds of online content, such as videos, reviews, exclusive content or promotions and much more.

The Tag app is compatible with all current versions of Android.