Like the love child of Barcode Scanner and Google Goggles, Google's new Shopper app for Android (rated review) uses the smartphone's camera to find you deals and steals.
Although you can scan any barcode, Google is positioning Shopper as an entertainment tool to identify CDs, DVDs, and video games from scans of their covers. Google also links up its voice search engine, so you can speak your way into Shopper's database. There is, of course, the arcane typing method, too.
Shopper, a product wrought from Google Labs, predominantly sources its price comparisons (in US currency only) from online stores and large chains like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target. The app lets you star favorites and share them online or via e-mail, and it winningly saves a history of your selections for offline referencing.
However, as a tool for converting the scan into a sale, Shopper for Android falls flat. Unlike many other shopping and barcode-scanning competitors for Android (like ShopSavvy, for one), Shopper stops short of pointing out local sources of the item, essentially abandoning you in your quest of acquisition.
It would be so easy for Google to drop in its excellent map and reliable directions engine. And why isn't Google Shopper using the Android phone's built-in GPS to help determine where you are and which brick and mortar stores lurk nearby? The app should--at the very least--sort results from cheapest to priciest, add various other sorting filters, and hyperlink to online stores so you can suss out the competition yourself, or even attempt to buy online right then and there. We know that Google Shopper is in its early stages, but it's a thin showing from a company with so much to offer mobile consumers.