Google Brings Catalogs Back To The Future

Today the Google Catalogs app was released for Android tablets. The free Catalogs app makes 125 different catalogs available for browsing on an iPad and Android tablet, and in some instances links are available to order the product online and find the product in a local store.

Back when I was a child, before there was the Internet, catalogs were the only way to browse products from the comfort of your home, and I remember flipping through the pages, hoping that Santa Claus would bring one toy or another that caught my eye. One of the biggest and most popular catalogs was the Sears, Roebuck & Co. “Wish Book,” which was around 600 pages of colorful pictures of products.

I have to admit that with today’s technology, I find that I am annoyed when catalogs arrive in the mail at my house. The catalogs waste paper and add to the clutter at our house. Still, there is something about flipping through colorful pages of a catalog that cannot be duplicated by a web site.

Tablets are the perfect solution for viewing catalogs without paper and Google has scanned hundreds of pages of print catalogs and made them available as high resolution pages that you can flip through with a swipe of a finger across the screen. Unfortunately, you won’t find catalogs from Sears, JC Penneys, or Montgomery Ward in Google Catalogs, but you will find Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and Lands End, to name a few.

When you start the Catalogs app you see one of 11 featured catalogs among the 125 that are available in categories like Home and Women’s Fashion & Apparel. The gadgets category includes Sharper Image, SkyMall, and ThinkGeek. As you browse a catalog you will see price tag buttons appear next to some of the items, which you can tap to see more details and launch a web site to order that product online. The ThinkGeek catalog even has embedded YouTube videos for some of their products.

As you are browsing a catalog you can add a page or a product to your favorites, which are stored to your Google account. You can also email a link to a catalog page or product, which is a not-so-subtle way to tell someone what you want for Christmas. Another way you can share is by creating a collage of pictures of products that link to the catalogs.

If you enjoy catalogs but don’t like how they waste paper, you might want to check out Google Catalogs for the iPad and Android tablets.