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Amazon adds Flow's augmented reality to main shopping app

Shoppers used Flow, a standalone app from Amazon's A9 unit, to search for, and purchase, items by simply taking a photo. Now, they can do it straight from the Amazon app.

Screenshot by Nick Statt

Amazon has added augmented reality technology to its main iOS app, allowing shoppers to scan for more products using their iPhone cameras.

Amazon has long been developing this tech, released in 2011 through an app called Flow. The feature lets users snap a photo of a product instead of scanning the barcode or typing the name of the item into a search bar. It will then pull up the product from the photo, so customers can purchase it instantly.

The original Flow was separate from the main shopping app. It let users photograph items such as books, DVDs, and packaged household items like a box of cereal or a box of tissues. Amazon is hoping this new integration into its main iOS app will encourage the purchase of even more everyday items. Customers also can manage wish lists and see products in their search histories.

"Flow instantly matches products in your home to items on Amazon," Sam Hall, vice president of Amazon Mobile, said in a statement. "Once you have added that box of garbage bags or baby wipes, just keep moving your phone over other packaged goods you need to restock and the Amazon app recognizes the product and saves it into your search history. You can search items lined up on the counter, stored on a shelf, or pick them out of a cupboard, taking care of your shopping needs in seconds."

Although the new integration is only on iOS 7 for now, you can still get the standalone Flow app (powered by Amazon) on iTunes and the PlayStore.