updated 07:00 pm EST, Mon December 5, 2011
Shoppers can scan barcodes for best pricing
Google Shopper, a price-comparison application that lets iOS users scan barcodes and front covers or search by voice or text to find both online and local prices and reviews for items, has been updated to version 2.0. The new version adds the ability to see, subscribe to and purchase Google Offers, special deals from local merchants in a manner similar to Groupon, if users live in one of the eligible cities in the US.
Currently, Google Offers is available in a number of large and mid-sized cities ranging from Atlanta to Washington D.C. (New York City gets three "zones" of offers: downtown, midtown and uptown) but is not yet available in all US cities. The service is coming soon to Charlotte, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Oklamhoma City, Omaha, San Antonio and Tampa.
The offers feature the ability to buy coupons or certificates typically worth 20-50 percent off the normal price of the products or services offered by a featured merchant. Normally the opportunity to purchase the discounts are only available for a short period of time -- typically two to three days -- even though the coupon is generally good for a much longer period. Google Offers is also available via Google's website for those who don't use iOS or Android devices.
The ability to save the user's history of scanned or inquired items and post good deals on various social networks (or by instant message or e-mail) helps shoppers compare and keep records of items they want. The app's barcode and cover scanning (similar to abilities offered by apps such as RedLaser) helps shoppers find out if ordering online is the best option, or if a local merchant offers a similar price with the added convenience of getting the product now.
The app is compatible with devices running iOS 4 and higher. The app's 1.x version received mixed reviews, with some users complaining that the barcode scanning was inferior to similar programs and that the "cover" photo scanning (used mainly with books and DVDs) didn't work well. The 2.0 version may have seen improvements in these areas, but Google didn't note any fixes in its release note.