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Amazon UK iPhone app launched, tested

Amazon has launched a free iPhone app in the UK that lets you search and buy from its entire store, but with a couple of neat twists. We've tested it out and made some important observations

Amazon has launched a free iPhone app in the UK that lets you search and buy from its entire store, with a couple of neat twists.

The most interesting feature is called Amazon Remembers. If you're in a shop -- Waterstone's, say -- and see a book you want to buy later from Amazon, you can use the app to take a photo of it. It's then uploaded to Amazon, automatically identified and a link to buy it within the app appears within a few seconds.

If it isn't immediately recognised, the picture is sent for further analysis -- a bunch of blokes look at it and try to find the same product on the Web site (we hate to think what kind of stuff they have to look at) -- then emailed to you. In our tests this took about 5 minutes.

Our faces: do they feature smiles?

It works well for the most part, but we wouldn't trust it too far. For example, we took a photo of the box of the brand-new Archos 5 Android tablet. The app didn't recognise it, so the picture went away for further investigation. When our result came back, it was for an Archos 5 tablet alright, but the old one that looks almost identical -- not the new one with Android on it.

The same happened with the new movie Obsessed, which just came out on DVD. Except we took a photo of the Blu-ray edition. If we bought the version Amazon Remembers suggested, we'd just get the pathetic old standard-definition DVD, not the glorious 1080p Blu-ray we saw on Ian's desk. And when our boss man Jason Jenkins took a photo of a Christmas tree, Amazon suggested he buy a giant wooden giraffe.

But on the plus side, when we took a photo of the album art for Cannibal Corpse's latest album Evisceration Plague in our iTunes library, the app immediately provided us a link to buy the correct CD.

So here's our advice: use Amazon Remembers... to remember. That's it. If you rely on it to provide a link to the exact version or edition of a product you want to buy later, there's no guarantee you'll get the one you wanted.

The app is available free from today. Here's a link to the iTunes Store page.