Bonnie Cha

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Attention Shoppers: Five Apps for a Brighter Black Friday

I avoid Black Friday sales like the plague. I’d much prefer to feast on Thanksgiving leftovers and watch college football. But I could see how saving a couple hundred dollars on that new HDTV could lure someone into the madness — maybe.

If you are going to brave the stores or even shop online, don’t be a turkey. Arm yourself with some backup. And by backup, I don’t mean a can of pepper spray. There are a number of apps that can help you sort through the various deals, compare prices, compile coupons and more. Below, you’ll find five such apps, and to help kick-start your savings, all the ones I’ve chosen are free.

Happy shopping, and good luck!

Black Friday by FatWallet
Platform: iOS 5 or later
This app makes it easy from the get-go, with a simple interface that lets you search by store or category. It includes deals from more than 19,000 retailers and products, from Best Buy to Old Navy, from toys to electronics.

When you select an item, the app shows you more details about the sale. From there, you can also save the product to a Favorites list (though this requires registering with FatWallet), and if the item is available for purchase online, you can simply tap the “Shop now” icon to be taken directly to the retailer’s Web site. Black Wallet also provides scans of retailer ads, including coupons.

There are more advanced options, too. For example, you can search for products that qualify for free shipping, and opt to receive notifications whenever a store posts a new deal.

Black Friday Deals by Shopular
Platform: Android 2.2 or later
Coupons are a great way to save money. But clipping them out and remembering to bring them with you can be a nuisance (it is for me, anyway). Shopular’s app eases that pain by compiling mobile coupons that you can use in stores.

It will even surface deals based on your location. As soon as it detects that you’re in a mall, the app will display any relevant deals. The developer says it covers 700 malls across the U.S., and uses cell towers and Wi-Fi rather than GPS whenever possible to find your location, in order to save battery life.

One thing to note: This may not be the best app if you’re looking for electronics. Black Friday Deals largely lists coupons from clothing stores, such as Gap and H&M. But it does include some Black Friday ads from other retailers like Target, Walmart and GameStop.

Black Friday App by
Platform: iOS 4.3 or later, Android 1.6 or later
Like FatWallet’s Black Friday, this app allows you to search for deals by store or category. Its interface isn’t quite as slick as FatWallet’s, but what’s nice is that it offers price comparisons when possible. Some might find this useful, others might think it’s annoying.

I found that the app also pulls prices for similar items. For example, when trying to compare prices for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet, it also pulled in prices for the seven-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.

All deal hunting doesn’t have to be done on the small screen. You can visit the Dealnews Web site and save items to “My List,” which you can then later access on your smartphone or tablet. But it does require creating an account. New sales are constantly added under the Deals tab in both the iOS and Android versions.

Platform: iOS 4.3 or later, Android 2.2 or later
Zoomingo aims to make the shopping experience a little more personal by only presenting local deals. When you first start up the app, it will ask you to enter your ZIP code. From there, you can search for products by general categories, such as men, women, home and electronics, and the app will then show stores in your area that carry the item.

Zoomingo also provides information about store hours, and displays a map. It’s a nicely done app with a visually appealing user interface.

Amazon Mobile
Platform: iOS 4.3 or later, Android (varies with device), Windows Phone 7 or later
I wanted to get an app in for the Windows Phone users. Truth be told, it’s slim pickings out there for Black Friday-specific titles, but Amazon Mobile is a good one for any time of the year.

There is a Black Friday Deals Week section, where you can see the Deal of the Day, Lightning Deals and Best Deals. In addition to finding products by category or name, you can also use your smartphone’s camera to scan a bar code or take a photo of a book, DVD, CD or videogame to conduct searches.

Like the Web site, the mobile app offers price comparisons, customer reviews and similar items, as well as the option to buy.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik