Overview of the Boutiques.com iPad App from Google [VIDEO]
Google Brings Visual Search to the iPad
This past summer, Google acquired visual search company Like.com, leaving many to wonder whether Google would soon be applying this pattern recognition technology to Google Product Search. Yesterday we saw the result of that acquisition. Google launched new site Boutiques.com along with a matching iPad app.
Like.com began as a comparison shopping website that differentiated itself by focusing on “visual search.” Unlike other comparison sites, the primary focus was all on apparel, with an emphasis on fashion for women. Adding aspects of discoverability into the search and browse process, Like users could sort through products by choosing colors and shapes. Select one blue hobo purse and the results would bring back any other similar blue hobo purses. As a merchant, I began using Like.com in 2008, but the technology and interface were still rough and the backend reporting was almost non-existent.
The release of Boutiques.com is a different step for Google. The site is very un-Googley. As a fashion and celebrity oriented site limited only to women’s clothing, purses, and accessories, Boutiques places itself as a formidable competitor to ShopStyle. ShopStyle, a social shopping site that was acquired by Sugar Inc in 2007, has a similar focus and demographic. Users create trendboards or lookbooks based on their favorite styles and celebrities. Designer fashions from all the major retailers and smaller boutiques are pulled into the site, and users can group items together and search styles. ShopStyle launched originally with just women’s fashion in the US, but has since expanded to include Men’s, Kid’s, Home, and other countries. They also have an iPad app.
I decided to go through the Boutiques.com iPad app to check out the features and functionalities. The session was recorded with my iPad usability testing camera (first prototype). The camera is the funny looking thing in front of my face.
After exploring the iPad app a bit, here are my impressions.
iPad App Pros
- The visual search technology seems much improved from the older Like.com days and the interface is more modern and clean than anything Like.com ever had.
- You can refine products displayed by color, fabric pattern, price, and style. I like the treatment of the popups that allow you to choose your refinements.
- When you select your product type (shoes, tops, etc), a drop-down shows all the possible silhouettes or styles for that type of item. Just choose V-neck, blouse, tank, etc from the list and all matching products will show up.
- The interface, in general, is clean and modern feeling.
iPad App Cons
- When you tap a product, a product detail opens in an overlay. After tapping out of the overlay to get back to the main site, the app crashed everytime.
- The app is designed for users to browse via style collections or “boutiques.” That’s fine if you want to browse through fashion like a magazine, but if you’re actually on the hunt for a specific type of clothing, there’s no way to initially begin narrowing down by product or designer.
- The app wants to make personalized product recommendations based on your style interests and wants you to follow other users and create your own “boutiques.” I don’t have any interest in logging in to the app and creating a new account, especially if I can’t do it from my existing Google account or through Twitter OAuth.
- From the browse screen, the interface tells you the designer, but you have no idea who is selling it until you pull up the product detail. Even then, I didn’t notice the merchant listed until after playing with the app for awhile.
- The interface is only horizontal. I really would have preferred it if the app had been designed to work in either viewing mode.
Interested in how Google’s iPad fashion app compares to the rest of the market? I’ve also posted a comparison with the ShopStyle iPad app.