I like to buy stuff, and I’m a notorious cheap skate. Before I buy anything these days, I use a bevy of Internet resources to find the best price for the item I “need”. The art of finding the best price for an item can be an interesting challenge, but with the new Google Shopper app for the iPhone, the challenge has become a bit easier. While the app has been available for Droid devices for the past year, the release a few days ago for iOS users should see some huge gains in Google’s userbase.
After I downloaded the app, on first glance the interface is simple enough. You are given three choices for how you’d like to search for an item you want: Image Search, Voice Search, or a standard text search bar. Testing the image search with a few items that included books, electronics, and even groceries, the functionality is amazingly simple. The phone’s camera is used to grab an image of the product packaging itself or a barcode on the package. With a couple of packages, the search results yielded a few alternate items that were close to the item that was photographed, but the barcode readings were dead-on. While this is nothing new, as RedLaser has been available since the iPhone’s initial release, the addition of image search is a great addition to this type of virtual shopping assistant.
Voice search works much like it does in the main Google app, but for this speaking the name of the item yields the options available for price hunting. As with most of the apps on the iOS, the voice recognition is remarkably accurate, and a quick search for a certain videogame sent me to a list of potential items, of which two of the three listed were the item being sought.
If you allow Google Shopper to use your current location, search results for your items can reveal local stores and their prices for that instant shopping fix for the things you want and need. While we might have fewer resources than most places, items that are available locally are listed, though most will be at larger retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, or Office Depot. With either online or local retailers, your search results can be browsed, revealing product reviews. For online stores, you can easily make your purchase on your device, so that your “itch” for instant gratification can be realized. Your Google Shopper results can be easily rated by using a “star”, and you can share your results via Twitter, Facebook, or Google Reader. Search results are also saved so you can access your history if you need to revisit your recent bargain hunting efforts.
While apps that help you to find the lowest price aren’t anything new, Google has upped the bar by adding a revolutionary image search and their accurate voice recognition to their Google Shopper app. By adding Google Shopper to the iPhone, Google has succeeded in making the art of pricing hunting fun and simple.