La, la, la, you stroll into your favorite bookstore and you see a book that you'd like to buy. "Hmmm," you say to yourself, "Self, I wonder if this book is any good and better yet, can I find it cheaper somewhere else?"
So, you pull out your trusty iPhone and launch SnapTell Explorer, the free app you downloaded just the other day. And when no one is watching, you snap a picture of the book's front cover.
Tap the button to transmit your snapshot to SnapTell and in return you'll get an image of the book and a list of places online where you can buy the title and search for more information about it. SnapTell Explorer works for DVDs, CDs and videogames as well. Most iPhone users will know the time it takes to send and receive is dependent on whether you're using EDGE, 3G or Wi-Fi, but a little reminder doesn't hurt.
It's rather remarkable, actually.
SnapTell Explorer uses image-recognition technology to identify the media you've just taken a picture of. The company maintains a database of millions of images and is able to match up the picture you've taken with one in its database.
SnapTell Explorer worked almost with everything I took a picture of. I was able to cause the app to misstep by taking a picture of a book that's no longer in print and of a videogame that had a reflective glare on it from a lamp above. When it doesn't recognize the media's cover, SnapTell Explorer will quit. In the real world, it worked better than I would have ever expected.
Despite all that, the app did not work flawlessly. SnapTell Explorer inexplicably quit on me several times for reasons other than the two examples I mentioned.
It also has a "Share this product" button that will bring up the iPhone's email app. The email message and subject line is already stuffed with promo copy about the product. I'd rather not spam my friends, thanks so much. You can erase all that tripe but why I should have to bother in the first place is a question better left to SnapTell to answer.
You won't have many opportunities to use this app (if you're able to take a picture of the book, then most likely you can flip through it and judge for yourself if it's worth buying). For that reason, I'd rather be able to price shop more and search for reviews less.
I could see something like this being put to good use at airports to ID terrorists and other rogues. Maybe that's for the next update.