If you're one of many shoppers heading out to stores this Black Friday (or even on Thanksgiving), you'll need backup to find the best deals. I've combed through the Google Play store to find four 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.
There's no need to camp out to get a Black Friday deal; all you need is 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.
If you're headed out to the sales this Black Friday, you'll want to know what's being discounted and where. My favorite choice for checking out the Black Friday deals this year is from BlackFriday.com called simply Black Friday. The free app has all the ad scans you want from big retailers including Target, Walmart, Costco and Best Buy.
You can browse ads by store or just look at the most recently published ads. One of my favorite features is that on every circular, there is a plus sign over each item. Tap it to add that item to your shopping list that you can reference at the store. You'll need to sign into the app using your email or Facebook to do that, but it's worth it to create a shopping list.
You can also download Black Friday 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 deals 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.
Think of Shopular as a mashup of RetailMeNot and the typical Black Friday ad-scan apps. The free app hunts down deals at your favorite stores, including big-box stores Target and Walmart and many retailers you'll find at the mall, such as Banana Republic and GameStop.
You get those deals in the form of store coupons that you can redeem right from the app. There are also in-store promotions and the app tells you how to get them. Finally, Shopular shows you ad scans from your favorite stores for Black Friday and beyond. It's one of the smoothest ways to skim store sales flyers and take advantage of in-store coupons and promotions.
You can also download Shopular for iOS.
Shopkick (free) 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 website. You can then redeem those kicks for instant gift cards, magazine subscriptions, and even a cruise trip, right on your Android phone. Shopkick also shows you popular items that are on sale and you can add those items to shopping lists.
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.