Shop automatically with Flow Powered by Amazon

Nov 7, 2011

The barcode product scanner isn’t anything new to iDevice — or even to Amazon’s family of apps for that matter — but the speed and accuracy of new app Flow Powered by Amazon is a step above its predecessors. Available on the camera-equipped iPhone and iPod Touch, Flow’s augmented reality is just the app you need as holiday shopping season looms.

Flow’s interface is straightforward. Upon launching the app, the camera will activate to provide users with a large scanning area. Unlike other apps that require you to line up a barcode in set parameters Flow uses continuous scan from to adapt to your viewing angle. I tested Flow on a couple of items around the house, including a hardcover book and video game. Flow is definitely geared toward media, but it also recognized a box of cereal, and popped up that item from Amazon’s marketplace, too.

I was most impressed with Flow’s speed, as its accurate results were almost immediate. Smart spenders will want to install Flow for brick-and-mortar comparison shopping. Flow shows the current Amazon price, as well as other buying options, such as used items and other marketplace resellers. The app also offers access to Amazon reviews, complete product descriptions and related items. Plus, you can purchase items in-app with your Amazon account.

One $60 item I viewed came up with a shipping fee of $4.98, but once I took the item almost through purchase completion I was offered Amazon’s free super-saving shipping. I’d advise double-checking before you hit buy, but, chances are, if you order directly from Amazon, normal shipping specials (including Prime) will apply.

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Flow Powered by Amazon will save your complete scanning history, which is ideal for keeping track of items you’re interested in. But make sure to clear it if you share your device — wouldn’t want to ruin that holiday surprise.

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Kathryn Swartz

Kathryn Swartz is a freelance writer/editor who doesn't know how people lived pre iPhone. She attended the Missouri School of Journalism.

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