The newest version of Google Shopper has an attractive user interface, a new way to find deals, and other tweaks. Whether you're looking for apparel, electronics, accessories, or pretty much anything else, the app is a great place to start, as it scours the entirety of the Web for both local and online retailers that carry the items you desire.
As is typical with Google-made Android apps, Google Shopper's user interface is simple and starts with a search bar. Up top, you can type in a keyword, start a voice search, or activate your camera to run an image search, which can recognize not only bar codes, but also books, CDs, DVDs, and video games by their cover art. Hopefully, in future versions, the app will have some more of Google Goggles' powers built in so as to recognize an even wider variety of items. But for now, the options available are more than sufficient.
If you're not exactly sure what you're looking for, you can always navigate Google Shopper by browsing through the thumbnails on the homepage, which cover everything from kitchen appliances to tablets to children's apparel. Some of these lists are based on shopping trends, while others are curated favorites within a category. But be aware that Google does receive compensation from some of the merchants who come up in these lists. Still, the lists can prove helpful, as they show ratings, prices, and even local brick-and-mortar stores that may carry the items you're looking for. You can also get directions or place a call to a store right from the product's Details page. And you can always find links to online retailers that carry the product.
One thing I love about Google Shopper is the Shopping List, which can be shared in its entirety via Android's Share menu. It's easy to keep track of stuff you want, as you can add any item to your Shopping List in a single tap, right from the Product page. Of course, this means that you actually have to click through to each item that you want to add, while I think it would've been nice to be able to add items directly from a search results page. Still, the process isn't terribly inconvenient as it is now.
Also accessible from the homepage is Google Shopper's brand-new Sales page, where you can see discounts and deals from local stores, as well as from online retailers. This is a great resource for big-discount holidays like Labor Day and Black Friday, since it aggregates nearby deals in one place. Perhaps in the future we'll even see some tighter integration with Google's daily deals service, Google Offers.
Conscious consumers will be pleased to see that Google Shopper now includes GoodGuide ratings, which indicate on a scale from 1 to 10 whether a product is healthy, safe, and environmentally friendly. While not every product has GoodGuide ratings, for those that do the rating is featured prominently on the product's Details page. Google Shopper even keeps a curated list of GoodGuide-rated products right on its homepage.
While the updated interface is certainly beautiful, I do find its lack of a dedicated Home button incredibly annoying. This means that when browsing deep within a specific category, returning Home can require pressing the back button three, maybe even four times. If you ask me, a Home button should always be right there on the search bar, or at the very least tucked into the menu for an easy jump. It's also worth noting that the app is not optimized for tablets, which means many images turn out grainy on the larger screen.
Overall, Google Shopper offers a slick interface and some nifty new tools like GoodGuide ratings and aggregation of nearby sales and special deals. Even if it does have a few navigational quirks, it's a useful app to have for comparison shopping and research, especially during the holidays. It even provides links out to retailers, so you can make purchases right from your mobile device.