Family and friends and coworkers, oh my! With so many loved ones in our day-to-day lives, holiday shopping lists can quickly reach epic lengths. Stretching your dollars for all they're worth is crucial to getting through the gift-giving season without breaking your budget. You could pick up your local newspapers and pore over each and every Sunday circular to try to sniff out deals, but that takes a lot of sweat and scissor-snipping - work that isn't particularly necessary in today's interconnected world. These shopping apps will do the grunt work for you and point you towards the best bargains all year 'round.
NexTag.com is one of the oldest and most well-known product comparison sites on the Web, and it puts its vast database to use on its free iPhone, iPad and Android apps. Each offers different capabilities, but the iPhone app is by far the most full-featured. In addition to basic type-and-search, it includes image and barcode scanning so that you can compare prices for items you find in physical stores, a shipping and tax calculator, the ability to view the inventories and prices of some local stores for offline shopping help, and a "Radar" function that automatically lets you know when products on your Wish List get price drops or similar products are released.
Another app, NexTag Radar (iPhone; free), is a slimmed-down alternative that only includes the image and barcode scanning and Radar functionality. It also has the ability to directly call vendors from your phone if you find a deal you want to jump on immediately. Your Radar list also appears on the NexTag.com website when you sign in to your account.
EBay's RedLaser app (Android and iOS; free) scans UPC and QR Codes, then taps into local and online shopping databases - including Shopping.com, Amazon Marketplace, Google's Product Search, Milo, TheFind and more - in order to find the best price for the item, whether that price is found online at an e-retailer or offline at a local store (after determining your location via GPS). RedLaser includes the ability to organize products into lists or buy items in-app for instant gratification.
Similar to the previously mentioned apps, ShopSavvy (Android and iOS; free) searches for items via keyword or by scanning a UPC or QR Code, then displays the lowest online and local prices for the product. Customizable lists are supported, and if you decide you want to go the local route, ShopSavvy will supply the retailer's phone number and directions to the store from your current location. You can search for prices in British Pounds, Euros or U.S. dollars, and if you come across a barcode that isn't recognized by the app, you can manually upload the product information for review by the developers. Users love it, but in a 2010 round-up of the top iPhone shopping apps, Gizmodo.com reviewer John Herrman cautioned that many of the deals seemed "misleading or heavily caveated."
Amazon.com has been called the Walmart of Internet shopping sites, and there's some truth to that: the best prices online can often be found at the website. Unfortunately, some comparison shopping apps only search third-party Amazon Marketplace prices (Like RedLaser, discussed above) and not Amazon.com's direct prices. Amazon Mobile (Android, BlackBerry, iOS; free) scours all Amazon.com results from around the globe - just be mindful of those shipping charges if you're ordering from overseas. Both barcode and image scanning are onboard, as well as basic keyword searches. The app ties into your existing Amazon.com account, so you have full access to your Amazon.com shopping cart, payment info and Amazon Prime shipping benefits. Just how useful is Amazon Mobile? Gizmodo.com named it the best iPhone shopping app late last year.
If you live near a big city and dig daily deal websites, Dealmap (Android and iOS; free) might be right up your alley. The app taps into a database of over 350 filterable daily deal sources and shows the ones closest to your current GPS location so you can hit the biggest bargains in your neighborhood on the way back from work. Facebook, email and Twitter sharing helps you get your friends in on the deals, too.
We undoubtedly missed a few of your favorite shopping apps. Which apps do you use to find deals?