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Review: New Shopping App Good for Malls, Airports

Fri, 12/10/2010 - 7:07am
Karen Schwartz, Associated Press

LOVELAND, Colo. (AP) — If Santa's checking Facebook, a new app released just in time for Christmas might help you get the perfect gift — whether you're at the local mall, on the road or even in an airport.

The "Wish List" feature on the newest free version of "Point Inside for Airports and Malls," allows shoppers to scan the bar codes of their favorite items and post the details to their Facebook page. This is ideal for travelers who may find goodies while traveling. Not only does the app include interactive maps and detailed information for retail outlets in over 100 airports around the world, but it also includes over 750 malls.

"For the first time ever, the whole mall is your very own gift registry," said Josh Marti, chief executive officer of Point Inside.

If everything works as it's supposed to, creating a list is quick and easy. Shoppers first pick their mall or airport from the Point Inside database. They then choose the store where the item is located from an alphabetical listing.

Then comes the fun part. Push an icon on your iPhone or iPod Touch and up pops a photo screen. Align it with the bar code on the goody you want and — tada — the app automatically fills in the item name, photo, description, and UPC number. Most of the time.

When the image finder doesn't recognize the barcode, or if your mall doesn't have Wi-Fi, or if you have an iPad, then all the information must be entered manually. In any event, you can also add the quantity, price and comments.

Sharing the list with Facebook is as easy as logging in and hitting a button. And to make it simple for your Facebook friends, they can sort the list by price, or alphabetically by store.

The Wish List is fun and will have uses long beyond Christmas for birthdays, weddings, baby showers and bar mitzvahs as Point Inside plans to make the feature permanent. That's good news for travelers who may spot treasures at chain stores while away from home but don't have room for anything else in their suitcases, as the information on their Wish List will make it easy to find the items later at local stores. The Wish List feature works just as well browsing in an airport store while waiting for a flight as it does shopping at your local mall.

One limitation is that not every mall and airport is covered by the app. I happened to go to the Promenade Shops at Centerra, in Loveland, Colo., which isn't listed in the Point Inside database. But I was able to create a wish list of products I saw at Promenade by finding stores that are in the app that carry the same products. Point Inside adds to its database continually, so malls not now included might be some day.

Also in the future, Point Inside plans to expand the sharing options, which should allow users to send the list to a specific person, or a select group. That will lower the likelihood that both Santa and your brother will read the list on Facebook and get you the same blue sweater.

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