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I’ve been a fan of GarageSale for a few years and, while I don’t use eBay (s ebay) regularly, I tend to use OS X software when placing a listing. It always results in something which looks stunning and makes the item you’re selling a great deal more appealing.
A friend recently told me about a similar eBay app called GarageBuy, developed by iwascoding. Rather than providing a tool to sell your item, GarageBuy assists with searching and tracking items you’d like to purchase.
I hadn’t really ever considered the need for a local OS X application for browsing eBay, but have been impressed with GarageBuy after using it for a few days. It provides a full featured method for searching and browsing eBay, watching auctions, bidding and integrating your eBay purchasing with local apps such as iCal.
The interface itself is very similar to GarageSale — the fairly dark gray, complicated layout has echoes of other iwascoding releases. While this isn’t my favorite style (I generally prefer applications with a little more white-space), it gets the job done in this case.
There are three different layouts for browsing results: list, list with thumbnails, and images. When choosing the image version, small sticky notes are superimposed over the image to let you know the price and whether the item is a bid or ‘buy it now’ listing. Upon selecting a result, all the relevant details are displayed beneath it. One slight criticism here is that when resizing the application, the listed features don’t adjust evenly — it would be quite easy to end up with details being cut off on a smaller screen.
Fortunately, another option exists for viewing the actual eBay listing below the thumbnails when clicking on a particular result. I’m a fan of this option, as I quite like being able to see the result on the actual eBay site itself.
Results can be narrowed easily by category at the top of the listing, which is great when searching for a product which has a bunch of accessories for sale (there were around 1000 iPhones on sale, but over 16,000 accessories!) After performing a search, the results are stored in the sidebar to return to later. These saved searches have their results updated automatically, and you’re notified if any new ones appear. GarageBuy can integrate with Growl to notify you in any way you specify.
As eBay grows and expands, their categories and data changes format regularly (categories for iPhone accessories certainly wouldn’t have existed a few years ago!). Fortunately, GarageBuy is perfectly capable of downloading updates to support new categories as they are adjusted.
Bidding and Buying
At present, GarageBuy is unable to support items requesting immediate payment. It does, however, provide functionality for Buy it Now and standard bidding listings. After authorizing GarageBuy to access your eBay account via a token, all this can be done from within the app.
AppleScript support is integrated to allow you to create a script which will automatically bid a predefined amount on a particular item. This is a really interesting solution, and makes it easy for a ‘power’ eBay user to automate their business — through the use of iCal reminders (see below) and AppleScript, set bids can be placed in the last few minutes of an auction.
Integrating with OS X
The beauty of managing your eBay purchases locally is the ability to integrate directly with other local applications. Two such features are provided:
- Mail: Clicking ‘Tell a Friend’ will automatically open an email containing information for the listing currently being viewed. This includes the current price, shipping information and eBay item ID.
- iCal: Selecting ‘Generate iCal Event’ can create a separate calendar within iCal for tracking eBay items, and will display an alarm notification a set number of minutes before the end of the auction. I’ve found this to be really useful to avoid kicking yourself for just missing the end of an auction. It can of course be done manually, but it’s nice to have the feature integrated.
GarageBuy for iPhone/iPod Touch
As a companion to the desktop application, a piece of software is available for the iPhone/iPod Touch. It allows you to search for, and bid on, eBay items from anywhere. It’s usable almost anywhere, supporting 16 different eBay Sites including the USA, Canada, Germany and Great Britain. Downloading it is completely free, and it provides an excellent addition to your iPhone. Arguably, I would expect to get more use out of the mobile version as I’m not a huge fan of the eBay mobile site.
Other eBay Tools
We’ve previously posted a collection of different eBay utilities for the Mac. Many deal with listing your own items, but there are a couple of useful Dashboard widgets which you may be interested in checking out as an alternative to GarageBuy.
Unlike a few of iwascoding’s other products, GarageBuy is completely free to use. There’s no barrier to downloading it and having a play for yourself. You may find that it doesn’t add a great deal over using the eBay site itself, but if you’re a regular eBayer it can add a range of really useful functionality.
Is it an app that captures your interest, or do you use another tool for simplifying eBay purchasing?