What the Tech: Black Friday apps

(WHAT THE TECH) - Do you remember when you were a kid you used to take those Sunday newspaper sales circulars and dog-ear or circle everything you wanted for Christmas? Unless you're under the age of 20 or so that's likely what you did to make your wish list.

You may not get the paper delivered to your home anymore which means if you want to see those sales circulars, you'll need to go online or with an app.

You'll find hundreds of shopping apps in both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store and not all are safe to download and install on your phone. Some apps track your every move even when you're not using it. Some shopping apps are spammy and released by hackers to either steal your information or send you spammy pop-up ads for games and other apps. 

There are a few shopping apps I highly recommend. Flipp is an app and website that makes finding the best deals easy and does exceptionally well at organizing sales circulars, coupons and shopping lists. Flipp has agreements with most major retailers to display their Black Friday and other sales circulars whether you're shopping for gifts or groceries. It currently has 26 Black Friday sales circulars. You can search by location, store or item. To browse the Black Friday circular for Walmart for example just click the mouse on the website or tap the icon on your smartphone. If you see something you want to add to the list tap on it to put a circle around the item and it will be displayed on your personal shopping list. If you want to comparison shop, search for the item and Flipp will bring together all the sales prices for the item as it's shown in the sales circulars. You can read reviews of the item as well. You can also favorite stores and clip coupons that can be redeemed in-store and online just by scanning the coupon on your phone. Flipp also stores any loyalty cards you have so it's easy to use them when you get to the register.

RetailMeNot is a highly rated shopping app that also displays Black Friday advertisements from major retailers. You can clip items and save them to a list as well as any coupons that are published. RetailMeNot also offers its own discount gift cards and cash back offers. You can search for stores and items as well and compare prices at all retailers that advertise them. I especially like a new feature from Retail Me Not that displays a map inside a shopping mall. If you have location services turned on for the app RetailMeNot will show where you are at the mall and every retailer with Black Friday or shopping circulars will be displayed on the map. It also has an 'Eats' section to find deals and coupons at restaurants near where you're shopping. I found a BOGO special on a pizza buffet at a restaurant within 200 yards of where I was when I got hungry.

Both Flipp and RetailMeNot will save coupons and deals on a computer that will be displayed on the phone and vice-versa which comes in handy if you do a little online shopping on your work computer.

Before downloading any shopping app do take a look at the privacy settings and terms and conditions. It'll tell you what information it tracks and if it's sold to 3rd party companies. Also, make note of when the app was most recently updated. The Black Friday app which has been a popular shopping app for years hasn't been updated since January 2016! RetailMeNot and Flipp are two apps that are updated frequently (which protects your information from attacks by hackers).


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