Google just put a futuristic spin on shopping catalogs. The company launched an iPad app today that takes traditional catalogs for things like apparel, jewelry, beauty and home goods and adds a layer of rich interactivity, including letting you purchase items on each vendor's website.
Google Catalogs features the most recent catalogs from retailers like Eddie Bauer, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Crate & Barrel, but every item in each photo is adorned with a small tag icon which, when tapped, reveals details about that product.
It's pretty much everything you might have imagined the "catalog of the future" to be about 20 years ago. You can flip through pages with the swipe of a finger, tapping items you're interested in as you go. If you want to purchase something, tap the button that says "Buy on Website" and the app will load the product page. If you're not ready to splurge, you can tap the heart icon to save it to your favorites.
Rather than just sticking to the paradigms of print, Google works the remixable characteristics of the Web into this app, allowing consumers to make photo-based "collages" of their favorite products, which can be organized by theme, color, retailer or any other criteria you can imagine. Those collages can be shared via email with anybody. It will attach an image of the collage to the email so they don't necessarily have to have the Google Catalogs app to view it.
The app is only available on the iPad for now, but an Android version is reportedly in the works.