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Google launches new product search for smartphones

By C.J. CASTILLO
March 20, 2010 at midnight
Updated March 19, 2010 at 10:20 p.m.


Suppose you're having lunch at work and suddenly are reminded of something you forgot to do. You forgot to buy a gift for your nephew's graduation party, which happens to take place that evening. You have half an hour to finish your can of Dinty Moore and find a decent gift.

No worries, all you need is your smartphone, Google and a few minutes to find a gift that will make you the coolest aunt (or uncle) ever.

Google recently launched a mobile product search feature which allows you to search for items in stock at nearby stores.

To use this feature on your iPhone, Palm WebOS phone, or Android-powered phone, open your mobile browser, go to Google.com, tap on the "more" link and then select "Shopping."

Type in the name of the item you want to find, select your location (you may need to enable the location feature in Google) and click on the search button. Within your search results you'll see a listing of the items available at different retailers. Items with a blue dot can be found at nearby retailers. Clicking on the "In stock nearby" link takes you to the seller's page where you can check if the item is in stock or in limited availability.

Participating retailers for this product include Best Buy, Sears, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn and West Elm. Google has asked for retailers who wish to participate to fill out a form online in order to be considered for the program.

I tested this feature out on my iPhone and did a search for a Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera. I found the camera in stock at the local Best Buy. I did a few more searches for different gadgets, and was able to find matches at various locations in town.

As more retailers jump in on this program, I can see myself using it. This is a very handy tool if you are constantly on the move, or just always leaving things for the last minute.

CJ Castillo can be found eating cans of Dinty Moore beef stew at the Victoria Advocate, where she is the interactivity editor. You can follow her on Twitter (@cjcastillo) or contact her at cjcastillo@vicad.com. Please send all correspondence c/o Victoria Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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