Amazon last week updated its iPhone app with a feature that lets users find items within the online store by simply holding them in front of their iPhone's camera.

The feature is called Flow, and it's designed to be a quicker way to search for products than by typing their name or scanning their bar code, as were already possible through the Amazon app.

The Seattle online retailer is marketing the feature as a way for users to quickly find items that they need to restock on a regular basis, such as their groceries.

"Flow is a way to search for products without typing, scanning a bar code or taking a photo," Amazon said in a statement. "It allows customers to simply move their iPhone camera over multiple items while standing in their kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, identifying and purchasing most of their shopping list in seconds."

To access Flow, users must have the latest Amazon app update. They must then tap on the search bar toward the top of the screen followed by tapping on the "Flow" option. Immediately the app will turn on the iPhone camera and begin scanning anything in front of it.

I tried out the feature and found that it does make searching for certain items a lot quicker. I used Flow to scan my hair gel, my toothpaste, a couple of books and a few video games.

However, Flow did not always work properly. In some instances, Flow could not recognize a product, such as a pack of gum, and at other times the app looked up a similar but incorrect item -- it mistook a coffee mug for a shot glass.


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After recognizing products, the Amazon app will keep them saved in users' search history. From there, users can go to each item and add it to their cart. The feature should be useful for users who buy and replenish their household items using Amazon.