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Amazon Shopping Gets “Flow” Scanning, We Go Hands-On

by Todd Haselton | February 6, 2014February 6, 2014 4:00 pm PDT

Amazon recently added a really compelling new feature to its iOS Amazon Shopping app called “Flow.” Simply put, it allows you to stock up on items you already have around the house, which you can then buy directly from the app. Instead of taking photos or scanning barcodes, however, Flow is capable of recognizing products using just the camera viewfinder on your phone. Simply launch the Amazon Shopping app, open Flow, point your phone at any item you want to add to your shopping cart, and the rest is magic.

Amazon said the idea behind Flow is to make it easy to quickly stock up on trash bags, diapers or any other items you have laying around the house. If you start to run low, just add it to your cart using Flow, check out, and the items will arrive in the mail just a few days later. “Amazon’s goal is to give customers the ability to go from ‘I need that’ to ‘I bought that’ in under 30 seconds. So, does it work?

We tried Amazon Flow to create our own shopping list, and it works flawlessly. We opened up our kitchen cabinets and were able to add some new whey protein, shopping bags, Raisin Bran cereal, granola bars and more. It was as simple as aiming the phone at the product. After it notices an object, it begins to recognize what it is. On your screen, you’ll just see a bunch of white dots flickering before, after about 2 seconds, the product is recognized and a green check mark appears. Then suddenly, if  by magic, the item is on your screen ready to purchase.

If you have 1-click settings, you can then check-out and use Amazon Prime for shipping. We’re pretty amazed by the technology, and plan to continue using it for stocking up on household items, though it’s capable of scanning other things. It didn’t work on our Nintendo 3DS XL box, but it did recognize a book.

If you want to try Flow yourself, just update your Amazon Shopping iOS app and select it from the Search menu.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...