Need a special screw? Amazon's Part Finder might help you someday (hands-on)

The Amazon app might save you a trip to the hardware store.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read
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Screenshots by Sean Buckley/CNET

I really wish Amazon's new Part Finder worked better, because it's a great idea in theory -- just take a picture of that oddball screw, with the Amazon Shopping app (on iOS) and it'll theoretically show you a matching fastener you can order on the spot.

But when I tried it today:

  • I had to go get a white piece of paper and a penny (who still carries coins in 2018?) to start the measuring process
  • The iPhone camera had a tough time focusing on the screw -- I had to take a bunch of pictures before one was crisp
  • You've gotta tilt the iPhone just so before it snaps the shot
  • It wouldn't recognize the tiny wacky bolt I might have actually searched for, even though a larger multipurpose screw worked fine
  • It only measured the length and diameter of the screw -- I still had to manually pick what kind of screw, what sort of head, etc.
Screenshot by Sean Buckley/CNET

And after all of that, Amazon didn't actually find me a matching screw! What's the point of recommending half-inch screws if I clearly need one that's 1.25 inches long? (See picture at the top of this post.)

So yeah, it clearly needs a lot of work before it's better than a trip to the hardware store. But I'll totally use it once it's a little more fleshed out.

Maybe you'll have better luck? To give it a try, just go to the Amazon app, tap the camera icon next to the search bar, and swipe up to reveal the Part Finder option.

Thanks to TechCrunch for tipping us off about the idea.

Amazon didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.