pic2shop – an iPhone app that I have fallen in love with
Posted by markharrison on March 23, 2010
Towards the end of last year, my former phone supplier decided that, as my contract had expired, they would respond by upping my monthly bill somewhat. Now, I had thought that the economics of mobile phones worked by having a HIGHER monthly bill during the initial contract, as a way of the network provider subsidising the cost of providing me with a handset.
I was happy with the handset I had, but unhappy with my provider, so thought I should change. One thing to consider, despite holding off smartphones for many years, was the iPhone. Despite the best attempts of the in-store staff to cross-sell me to a Blackberry (which was absolutely not what I wanted, and a surprising response given that I’d gone in looking to buy an iPhone), I was finally able to purchase it and (with one niggle, about the ringer volume being nothing like loud enough), I am delighted.
What I expect from an Apple product – more expensive than the competition, on a “feature count” basis, but a joy to use, with huge amounts of work in the design elements and ease of use.
Having got a smartphone, it then took me a few months to do anything other than use the built-in features. The web browsing in particular is something I’ve come to rely on, and the fact that more and more sites provide mobile skins optimised for mobile-device resolutions makes the mobile Internet experience a lot better than even a couple of years ago.
However, I now have my first app, and it’s great. It’s called pic2shop.
It uses a combination of the camera on the phone, and the always-on Internet connectivity to price-check something while you’re in a shop.
You start the app, point the camera at the bar-code on the product, and it locks on, and scans it… it then wanders off to the Internet, presumably to a server run by the pic2shop people, and finds price comparisons from various websites.
For books, it works very, very well. In Tesco today, I saw the newest Heston Blumenthal book, with a list price on the back of £35, but a Tesco special sticker on the front telling me it was £25, saving me a tenner. One zap of pic2shop later, and I discovered that Amazon sold it for £22.50 or thereabouts, so it never made it from the hand to the trolley. (I have Amazon Prime, so pay a fixed annual fee for next-day delivery no matter how many books I buy.)
Less success of magazines – Country Life’s barcode read, but the application couldn’t find an on-line seller. To be honest, I’m not so surprised.
Clearly, it isn’t going to help with items that don’t have barcodes – the LCD TVs in Tesco, for example, nor with own-brand goods for which there aren’t alternative suppliers…
… but for a free application, it’s marvellous. In the grand scheme of things, a £2.50 saving isn’t huge, but the feeling of smugness I get out of making said saving is out of all proportion to the raw economic value – turns out I am a creature driven by emotions after all.
[Other applications that do the same as pic2shop exist – I’ve not compared them, since the pic2shop seems to work well, and the others I found were chargeable apps, rather than free. It may well be available for other handsets, but again, I neither know nor care, since I’m not going to change my iPhone for another 18ish months.]