March 19, 2013, 10:03 AM

Google unveils new versions of its Shopper app

Highlights include category-specific search refinements and a high-resolution light-box.

Google Inc. has launched Google Shopper 3.2, a new version of the product and price comparison app. It’s announcing the news at the very top of the Google Shopper web site home page with big images of the app and links to download the Android app in the Google Play store and the iPhone app in Apple Inc.’s App Store.

In version 3.2, if a consumer is overwhelmed by choices on a search results page, she now can use product category-specific refinements to narrow down her search. For example, if she is looking for a point-and-shoot camera with a 10-megapixel sensor, she can select “Point and Shoot” from the Type refinements and “Under 10.1 Megapixels” from the Resolution refinements and greatly focus her search. Other product category-specific refinements for cameras include Brand, Store, Price, Sensor Type, Optical Zoom, Flash and Low-Light Performance.

“Once you’ve narrowed down your query to a few options, Google Shopper allows you to view detailed product information about each so that you can make an informed buying decision,” writes John-Shriver Blake, product manager, Google Shopper, on the official Google blog. “In addition to reading that information, viewing reviews from across the web or watching video reviews from YouTube, you may find it useful to view multiple high-resolution product images in the new light-box viewer.”

A light-box is a conventional tool used for illuminating film for viewing. The light-box viewer in Google Shopper is a tool designed to give consumers the best viewing method for today’s high-resolution images.

Google Shopper enables consumers to type in the name of a product, speak the name using voice recognition technology, or scan a bar code in a bricks-and-mortar store to obtain product, pricing and ratings information from various chain and web-only retailers. Consumers can compare prices; if they find a price they like from a web-only retailer, they touch the listing and are sent to the retailer’s web site to complete the purchase, all without leaving the app.

But the app also is designed to foster sales at bricks-and-mortar stores. A consumer can touch the Local button at the bottom of the screen, and GPS technology lists store locations from various retailers and the distance the stores are from the consumer’s current location. Touching a particular store gives consumers three options: Visit Web Site, View on Map and Call.

Google laucnhed the Android version of Google Shopper in March 2010 and the iPhone version in February 2011. Combined, the apps have been downloaded more than 10 million times, Google reports. Google declines to reveal traffic figures for the apps.

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