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iPhone app tracks your food intake by scanning bar codes

The aptly named FoodScanner uses your iPhone's camera to quickly and efficiently scan bar codes, then maintain a log of the foods you eat throughout the day.

FoodScanner for iPhone is a calorie counter's dream come true.

When my eating starts getting out of control, I usually fire up the Lose It app to keep tabs on my calories for a few days.

Of course, it's a hassle to have to manually enter the foods I eat. Enter FoodScanner, a new app that scans package bar codes for quick and easy calorie logging.

Does it work? It does. Is it just as cool as it sounds? It is. Will it earn a spot in one of Apple's "There's an app for that" commercials? Almost certainly. It's just that slick.

To use FoodScanner, just tap the little lightning bolt, then point your iPhone's camera at a UPC bar code until it's centered within the arrow guides.

In a matter of seconds, the app scans the bar code and presents the matching food (complete with a thumbnail picture). I found the scan process remarkably fast and accurate, especially compared with the somewhat unforgiving scanner in the pic2shop app I mentioned yesterday.

Once you've looked up your food, you can review its nutrition label or tap "I Ate This!" to record it in your daily database, which keeps a running tally of your caloric intake.

Of course, restaurant foods and other non-packaged items (like most fruits and veggies) have no bar codes--but FoodScanner also features a search option that ties to developer DailyBurn's database of more than 200,000 foods. So you can look up just about anything you can't scan.

No bar code? No problem. FoodScanner lets you search for non-packaged foods.

Speaking of DailyBurn, there's an eponymous app that's much more robust at tracking your calories, exercise, weight goals, and the like. FoodScanner is kind of a companion app.

Thankfully, it can sync with your Web-based DailyBurn account, which in turn syncs with the DailyBurn app. It's unfortunate that FoodScanner wasn't just built right into DailyBurn, but ultimately the data lands there.

The DailyBurn Web service and app are free, while FoodScanner costs $2.99.

If packaged foods make up a sizable portion of your diet, you're sure to find the convenience of bar code scanning (to say nothing of the off-the-charts cool factor) well worth the price.