Google Catalogs: The almost awesome shopping app

Launched in early November, Google Catalogs for Android Honeycomb could've been a valuable holiday shopping tool. Unfortunately, it suffers from some annoying performance issues.

For Android Honeycomb users, Google Catalogs could've served as an incredibly useful mobile shopping tool this holiday season.

It aggregates catalogs from over a hundred popular retailers, lets you search through and mark favorite products, and gives you links to make purchases directly from retailers' sites. It even lets you create and share visually stunning collages with friends. Unfortunately (for us and for Google), the app appears to be marred by a few performance issues that can't be overlooked.

The app's interface is beautiful, with high-resolution graphics and simple navigation. You can flip through pages with a quick swipe, and view prices, pictures, and other product details with a single tap. The app also makes it easy to add items to a Favorites list or share products, pages, or entire catalogs with friends.

Where Google Catalogs shines brightest, though, is its Collages feature, which lets you create, save, and share collages featuring any item from your Favorites list. With the beautifully simple collage editor, you can drag images around, change backgrounds, crop, layer, even add borders and text boxes to your creations with ease. These collages are perfect for keeping track of collections of items you plan to purchase as well as images or pages you might find inspiring.

Unfortunately, as great as the Google Catalogs interface and feature set may sound, the app does suffer from some annoying performance issues. With laggy loading times and chronic force-closes, we couldn't help but get irritated by the app. Also, it inexplicably can't reorient itself as you rotate your device, which seems like it should be a pretty basic function.

Overall, we love the idea of the Google Catalogs app, and believe it has tons of promise. But with its spotty performance it's difficult for us to give it high marks. For now, we'll stand pat, eagerly awaiting the hopefully forthcoming performance update.

Google Catalogs (download) is available for free download now on Android devices running version 3.1 and higher.