Amazon has launched a new mobile app for the iPhone called Flow that smoothly combines augmented reality with e-commerce.
Flow uses the camera on the back of the iPhone to scan UPC barcodes and tell you pricing on Amazon. On top of that, the app will show you customer reviews, a full description and media related to the scanned product such as trailers and interviews. Once you look at the product page, you’re then given the option to buy the item from Amazon.
I decided to give the new app a try using my iPhone 4S to see how well it worked, and let me say first that it runs fast and processed my test UPCs almost instantaneously. Using three objects I had lying around the house with clear barcodes on them, I was impressed with how quick the information and related assets came up.
First up, I scanned the new PlayStation 3 game The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection. The game’s 55 reviews, full description and 1-minute game trailer came up and were accessible from the product page.
I also decided to give my hardback copy of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and a jar of Nutella a scan. The product page showed 1,298 customer reviews and allowed me to see interviews with the book’s publishers, talking about the life of deceased author Stieg Larsson. There was no associated media for the scanned jar of Nutella, but there were (as expected) several customer reviews with people professing their love of the delicious spread.
While Flow is a competent app that serves its purpose, comparable apps RedLaser and ShopSavvy are superior when it comes to the basic task of price checking an item against online sources. Flow only checks the price on Amazon while the other two check any possible online retailer it can find. By scanning The ICO and Shadow of the Colossus Collection on RedLaser, for example, I found that Half.com was selling the game for $32.95 compared to Amazon’s $39.99.
Take a look at the gallery below for more Flow screenshots and a final picture from RedLaser that shows pricing from many sites.
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