Black Friday, Schmack Schmriday: here are the best iPhone apps for shopping all year round.
GOLD MEDAL: Amazon Mobile
An app that answers a single, all-important shopping question, even if the answer is almost always the same: Should I buy this in the store, or just wait a couple days for an online order. It's actually a cornerstone my tried-and-true purchasing routine, in which I browse and choose products in a retail store, check the reviews online, then order for a lower price, instantly. Sorry, actual stores!
The barcode scanner works as well as any of the others in the App Store, and the find-by-photo feature, while rarely useful, is technically pretty cool. For a similar app that's completely focused on quick price checks, try Amazon's Price Check utility too. Free, Universal
SILVER MEDAL: Shopper
Unrelated to the Android app of the same name, Shopper nonetheless does almost all the same stuff, and a bit more. Anyway, that stuff: shopping lists, barcode scanning for comparison shopping, daily deals, coupons and budget tracking. The feature list is staggeringly long, and the $1 price tag is reasonable, but the presence of ads and non-retina graphics keep it out of the top slot. Using this in concert with Amazon Mobile is ideal. $1, iPhone.
BRONZE MEDAL: Grocery IQ
Limited to (and therefore excellent at) building and tracking grocery lists, GroceryIQ supports barcode scanning, has integrated coupons, store-specific lists, and a huge ready database of foodstuffs. One of the coolest extras is a feature that takes a guess at which products will be in which isle. It's usually right, which is to say much, much better than my own judgment. Free, Universal.
• ShopSavvy: A pan-retailer, barcode-fixated version of the Amazon app, basically. It's got a lot of promise, but I found a lot of the listed deals to be either misleading or heavily caveated.
• RedLaser: This company makes the technology behind many, if not most, of the app that include barcode scanning. Decent store search capabilities.
• eBay: Loses points mainly for being tied to a site that I've found myself using less and less over the years. Still, this tight, well designed app—which now includes a barcode scanner—will net you a good deal every now and then.
• PriceGrabber: The buggiest of the comparison engine product search apps.