Just about anything you’d ever need is available on Amazon.com, and they’re working hard to make it easier to shop there. Their iPhone/iPod touch offerings include both the Amazon Mobile app, their iPhone version of the Web site available through Safari, and their Kindle app.
The Amazon Mobile app lets you quickly search for a product, compare prices, read reviews, and make purchases on Amazon.com via a simple interface. You can also access Amazon features such as wish lists, payment and shopping options, order history, 1-click settings, and prime membership benefits.
The app also includes an experimental feature that lets you use your iPhone’s camera to find products. For example, you can take a picture of the shoes worn by the person sitting next to you, and Amazon will try and find a pair like them. If Amazon finds something similar, it sends you an e-mail alert and posts the result along with a photo.
Even if you don’t purchase through Amazon.com, the app is useful for comparison shopping. For example, if you’re interested in an item you find in a retail store, you can use the app to compare its price with other merchants.
When you access Amazon.com from Safari on your iPhone or iPod touch, you are sent to the mobile version of the site which is formatted for the smaller screen. This iPhone friendly version lets you access the entire site.
In my brief experience with both the Amazon Mobile app and the Web-based version of the site, the app is faster. However, it doesn’t seem to let you select the category (books, eBooks, DVDs, etc.) you want to search. This function is available in the Web version of the site.
Amazon is also the creator of the Kindle app for the iPhone and iPod touch. This app allows you to purchase, download, and read eBooks available in Amazon’s Kindle eBook Store. If you’ve used the Kindle app in the past to get books, it remembers and keeps you logged in to that account. If, however, you want to look at your shopping cart or do something other than purchase eBooks, you have to log on to your regular Amazon account through the Amazon Mobil app or the Safari Web site.
The last time I wrote about the Kindle app (summer ’09, page 61), I mentioned a number of features I wanted to see added. The most recent version of the app now has many of them, including support for landscape viewing, the ability to browse and purchase books from Amazon’s Kindle Store directly from your iPhone, alternate backgrounds and text colors, and the ability to zoom in on images.