Those of you ready to shop for the holidays now have a new tool to find the best prices.
Available today in Apple's App Store, Amazon's new and free Price Check for the iPhone tries to find the best deals on items among both online and offline retailers. iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users shopping at their favorite outlets can compare prices on the shelves against those at other stores as well as at Amazon and other online vendors.
You'll find a variety of ways to get the app to recognize an item. You can take a picture of the product's bar code. You can snap a photo of a book, DVD, CD, or video game. You can speak the name of the product. If all else fails, you can simply type the name of the item into the app's search field.
Amazon then matches the product's photo or description with the same item already in its database and provides a list of vendors and their respective prices. Price Check even offers details on the item and reviews from other Amazon users.
If you find an item and a price you like, you can buy the item directly through the app, whether it's sold by Amazon or by another retailer through Amazon. You can share prices on your favorite items through e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter as a not-so-subtle holiday wish list for friends and family.
"We've worked hard to have low prices at Amazon, and we like it when customers comparison shop so they know they're getting a good deal," Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile, said in a statement. "We hope this app will empower customers to shop with confidence this holiday and any other day."
I tried the app on my iPod Touch, and the accuracy was solid. I snapped pictures of different books and CDs, and Price Check got every item right, each time pointing me to Amazon and other online bookstores and CD sellers. The voice recognition was equally on the money. I spoke the names of some of the tech gadgets cluttering my office, and the app picked up each one and again delivered prices from several different retailers. Beyond tracking down those items, the app can find many other products, from appliances to jewelry to clothes to groceries.
For anyone planning to hit the local stores and malls this season, Price Check can be a handy app to take with you to make sure your favorite retailer is giving you the best deal.