If you're one of many shoppers heading out to stores this Black Friday, you'll need backup to find the best deals. I've combed through the Google Play store to find three Android apps that give you an early look at the sales, find extra discounts, and even let you earn rewards while you're out shopping.
Hopefully you're reading this from your tent outside a big-box store, since people have been lining up for Black Friday deals for almost a week. But if you're not camping out, you might still be able to get a deal armed with your Android phone, a few apps, and a resilient shopping spirit.
Editors' note: For iOS shopping apps, check out Jason Parker's holiday shopping roundup.
Black Friday 2013 Ads (free)
There is no shortage of Black Friday ad apps in the Play store, and my favorite is the descriptively named Black Friday 2013 Ads. The app has all the details of Black Friday sales from big retailers including Target, Walmart, Costco, and Best Buy, and it has news stories about early sales and special in-store deals.
You can browse ads by store or category, such as TVs, small appliances, and toys. The app tells you when each store opens and organizes stores' deals into product categories, including a separate section for doorbusters.
For each product, the app shows an image of the scanned circular ad, plus product information and price. It even comparison shops for you when that's available, by showing you prices from online retailers. And you can save deals to your shopping list to view later for when you're planning your shopping excursion.
You can also download Black Friday 2013 Ads for iOS.
Shopkick does two cool things: it shows you popular and interesting products in stores around you, and it rewards you for shopping -- even if you don't buy anything. The app is a way for stores and brands to advertise their products, but you get rewarded for interacting with those ads.
It works like this: Shopkick gives you points, called "kicks," when you walk into a store, scan an item, or make a purchase one a participating retailer's Web site. You can then redeem those kicks for instant gift cards, magazine subscriptions, and even a cruise trip, right on your Android phone.
The app has already partnered with Target, Best Buy, and Macy's to install beacons that communicate with the app, so that even when you just walk through the doors you earn kicks. Fire up the app this Black Friday while you're out shopping and you might just come home with a Target gift card to reward you for fighting the hordes of people.
You can also download Shopkick for iOS.
You've already planned out your Black Friday strategy to get the best deals, but you might be able to snag extra discounts on the fly with a coupon from RetailMeNot. Use the app while you're out shopping, and it will search for nearby stores that offer in-store coupons.
The app uses your GPS signal to find nearby malls and shopping centers, and alerts you when there are deals close to you. You can also browse popular stores or manually search for retailers. Coupons range from discounts on phone cases at Best Buy, to buy one, get one free at Burger King.
Many of the coupons are same ones that you can find on a retailer's site or that stores give out when you make a purchase, but the app gives you a central place to find them all. To redeem a coupon, all you have to do is pull it up on your phone and the cashier scans it to apply the discount.
You can also download RetailMeNot for iOS.