Maluuba debuted in September as a sort of Android(s goog) version of Siri(s aapl), but with an emphasis on getting stuff done. Now, the app is introducing an upgrade just in time for the holiday rush that allows users to shop from their phone by just speaking to it in a natural way.
Maluuba users can enter in all kinds of shopping-related requests and Maluuba will find a list of products it thinks matches your criteria. These can be both local and online products. Maluuba produces results from Google (s goog) and has integrated into the data feeds of Best Buy (s bby) and Walmart (s wmt), allowing people to also see products from those retailers. It also provides local results for stores nearby.
For example, you can say: “Find me a humidifier under $50,” and Maluuba will bring back a list of a products that match. When I performed that search, Maluuba first took me to results from Google but I could check out tabs for Walmart and Best Buy. You can also ask for a specific brand or describe the product you’re looking for. When you’re ready to buy, you just click once and you go through an external check-out process.
The actual buying is still a little balky on a smartphone because you have to enter in payment and shipping data on a small screen. That’s why you see more smartphones in use for shopping research as opposed to actual buying, which happens more on PCs and tablets. But since starting a shopping query is pretty fast and intuitive with Maluuba, this might help spur on more smartphone-based commerce especially since the product isn’t limited to online shopping. Maluuba can also point you to retailers nearby that stock a product. That feature is based on Yelp (s yelp) data but it’s not always accurate.
Maluuba also provides a look into more than 100 etailer websites, including Amazon (s amzn), eBay (s ebay) and others, so asking about a product from that retailer prompts Maluuba to send you into their website. For example, I was looking for sweaters at Zara and Maluuba took me right into the search results page for sweaters on Zara.com.
Maluuba, which has $2 million in funding from Samsung Ventures, is looking to integrate with thousands of commerce site and it also wants to incorporate social signals, said Tareq Ismail, Maluuba’s user experience designer. So in the future, Maluuba can customize searches and results based on a person’s interests and likes.
I think Maluuba needs more deep ecommerce integrations to be really useful, though it’s off to a good start. And it would be great if Maluuba could speed up the actual checkout process. I’d also like a simple way to continue reading my Maluuba results from another device so I can complete my purchases later. But I think it’s nice to have a way to craft shopping queries using natural language, especially when you’re on the go. And it might just get me to start more shopping quests from my phone.