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Something Old, Something New: Google Catalogs for iPad




When I was a kid, flipping through the newly delivered Sears Christmas Catalog was one of my biggest joys in life. My sister and I would work our way through from beginning to the toys, playing “pick” on every page. (We did allow ourselves to skip the men’s clothing section and the tools.) When we were done, we’d each sit down with pencil and paper and make a wish list with page numbers and color options.

Fast forward to now where Google is breathing new life into the old catalog, via their new Google Catalogs app for iPad.

It begins by choosing the catalogs you want to receive. LL Bean, Williams Sonoma, Urban Outfitters. . . the catalogs update automatically just like when you used to get them in the mail.

As you browse, you can zoom in on items, watch videos and of course, purchase items right through the app or locate the item in a nearby store. But we’re always saying that it’s not enough just to take digital information and package it in an app without some kind of improvement. Google has done that and it’s either bizarre or brilliant. It’s called the collage.

As you skim through the catalogs you can mark favorite items then pull those photos together to make a collage. The collage can then be emailed to friends and family as a not-so-subtle hint. Much cooler than the pencil and paper wish list I made as a kid.

My less cynical mind says that this collage feature could lead to more sales, as creative types mix and match and realize they must have those red shoes to go with that red purse. And for those who like to make collages for writing or scrapbooking inspiration, or even for illustrations on their own blogs, this is an interesting way to make it happen.

The app went live yesterday and unfortunately the first reviews are poor so they’ve got some bugs to work out, but they’re moving in the right direction. Now all I have to do is put an iPad on my Christmas wish list, then next year, I can play “pick” in a whole new, digital way.