As Thanksgiving draws near, many shoppers have already begun poring over ads for Black Friday 2011, with many more prepping themselves for Cuber Monday, when millions of Americans will search e-commerce sites for last-minute sales.
If you've got a smartphone however, start looking to future, and get some of the great apps out there aiming to make your Black Friday 2011 experience about more than ad-clipping and mosh pits of anxious post-Thanksgiving consumers. These apps are almost all amde to be used year-round, far beyond Cyber Monday, and almost all of them are free.
This year, plan ahead for Cyber Monday and download one of these ten apps for your smartphone. We're sure these apps will save you time and cut back on stress, from Black Friday 2011 and beyond.
1. TGI Black Friday App
The Lowdown: This is the best smartphone app to keep track of all the crazy deals flooding in. Free and usable for both Android and iPhone, TGI Black Friday updates you on the most popular and recently posted deals. It also allows you to browse by store or category, and tells your smartphone what time each store opens.
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The Best Part: TGI Black Friday lets you create a list of your favorite deals as you go, which you can opt to send to yourself or email to your Santa surrogate for Christmas.
2. TheFind Apps
The Lowdown: Another free app for both the iPhone and Android, this is a mobile version of TheFind.com, a shopping search engine that tracks the best prices on products year-round. Various mobile apps allow yuo to check prices on items sold online, compare them with deals in-stock at stores, scan barcodes for detailed product information, get maps to stores with the deals you want, and even set price watches so you don't miss a good deal because of a there-and-gone-again sale.
The Best Part: One new function of the app that allows you to save product lists also lets us share scanned items with friend, and synces itself with your liked retailers on Facebook to scan those items for you automatically.
3. Slick Deals App Umbrella
The Lowdown: There's no one app for SlickDeals.net, a great site for bargain hunting powered by sale-savvy shoppers who vote on the best and biggest deals. Third-party apps do link to the site however, giving you constant updates on the site and its top sales. SlickDeals Reader is free for Android, iSlick is $1 for Apple's iPhone, and Windows Phone has a Slick Deals app for $1 too.
The Best Part: Because this site is powered by shopper's votes, both the app and the web site provides 24/7 updates on sales year-round, meaning users can get the skinny on great deals far beyond Cyber Monday.
The Lowdown: This is a Black Friday app that gives back. Free for Android and iOS phones, Shopkick rewards those shoppers who check in at stores frequently, and is linked to many companies whose ads for Black Friday have been going since Nov. 1, 2011. Using this app at participating retailers like Best Buy, target, Macy's, Sports Authority and Simon malls, users who open the app at the entrance or scan barcodes for featured products not only get sales run-downs but earn rewards points every time the app is used.
The Best Part: Points not only earn gift cards dollars at the store scanning the sales app, but can also earn you kicks for things like iTunes gift cards, restaurant vouchers and even donations to select charities.
5. Google Shopper
The Lowdown: This app is free for Android and Apple's iOS phones. The Google powerhouse has voice, maps and search functions, using your smartphone to locate deals and get the latest sales info. on select products and nearby stores. This app extends beyond Black Friday 2011, and can help guide you to the store even as it tracks what products you can find there.
The Best Part: The updated version 2.0 has a deal of the day feature and the ability to use your smartphone to scan barcodes or book and DVD covers and get instant product information. Try getting all that in a regular Black Friday ad!
The Lowdown: This app is for those who find themselves too tempted to buy the first 50 percent off sales item they find. To find out if the product in question is really the best deal, the ShopSavvy app (free for Android, Windows Phone and iPhone) can scan the product and have the info. entered in manually. It will then give you a list comparative prices.
The Best Part: The run-down the app gives you provides both online stores and local retailers, factoring in things like shipping and handling prices to guarantee you the biggest pay-off for Black Friday 2011.
The Lowdown: For those who question just impartial retailer-funded sales apps can be, the Buzzillions Reviews app is available, just like SlickDeals, to provide immediate feedback from fellow shoppers.The free app delivers over 17 million costumer product review for you to serach, from the good to the bad to the downright ugly. This app is good year-round, and can be used for both Apple's iPhone and Android phones.
The Best Part: Reviewers that work for a retailer can post comments, but must be identified as such. Those who've bought and used the product are also labeled as certified oweners, so users can avoid be duped by either sycophants or spammers as they hunt for deals.
The Lowdown: This app, only available on the iPhone, is ShopSavvy exclusively for electronics. The app is completely free, labels shoppers as legitimate buyers or retailers, and has updates 24/7.
The Best Part: In addition to listing price deals online and in nearby shops, the Decide.com app also advises you whether your should buy the sale item now or wait for an upcoming new model or lower price, product specs and price comparison included.
9. Milo's Local Shopping
The Lowdown: It's great to have a general idea of what discount items are available in what stores, but as Black Friday fever hits, many shoppers in 2011 may find they reach the store only to find the product has just then sold out. The MLS app for iPhone and Android phones scans the real-time availability of products on sale, giving users the price and number of items in stock for over 3 million products in select stores.
The Best Part: The MLS app has some major retailers invester, including JCPenney, Walgreens, Home Depot, Lowes and Toy R Us.
10. The Christmas List Apps
The Lowdown: For those who start their Christmas shopping early, and go well beyond Black Friday 2011, these apps are ideal. Free as the Christmas List app for Android and Christmas List for Windows Phone, this app costs $1 for Apple's iPhone and goes by the name Better Christmas List. All three apps however, let users create groups, set budgets, and mark shopping progress for Black Friday and ongoing deals.
The Best Part: Secret Santa groups can divide and conquer during Black Friday and Cyber Monday by having one collective list that's updated automatically with scanned and logged purchases.