Most CSEs now have an iPhone application, but few of them have launched a dedicated app for the iPad yet. When Nextag and Pricegrabber launched their own iPad apps, those apps were mostly the existing iPhone apps adapted to the bigger screen of the iPad. As a consequence, while being quite efficient, they were also pretty boring and didn’t really take advantage of the iPad form factor and touch capacities.
Become.com was in a different situation, with no mobile product launched yet. I suppose it was a tough call to decide to launch an iPad application as a first mobile product, but it certainly helped them to use the full potential of the device. What makes this application such interesting? It forgets the standard iPad / iPhone GUI patterns, takes benefit of animation and touch (like pinch and zoom) and for a long time makes a shopping engine fun and enjoyable to use!
When launching the app, you are welcomed with a list of shopping domains illustrated with big photo-realistic images ; you can scroll the screen to discover the various domains. In my opinion, the domain pages and browse experience can be improved; but the search is simply great: the result pages is displayed as a mosaic of products, displayed in a variety of sizes (randomly it seems). You can pinch and zoom product images, bookmark favored products by using drag & drop… ShopTop is an option to visually compare bookmarked products, or put them above a picture chosen from user’s images : a first glimpse of what could become a very powerful tool to see how a product could fit on you or in your appartement. You have to try it to see how good it is !
I was happily surprised to see such a good application from Become.com, as I’m not a big fan of the user experience at the main Become.com site. For me, this iPad version is far more polished than the main site; and hopefully this is a sign there are changes going on at Become.com. Congrats Become team for such a great app!
Homepage of the iPad application
Search result page