Nobody said getting the best deals of the year would be easy. From boredom, to fatigue, to the most dreaded of all holiday shopping hazards — parking — the challenges are many.
Luckily, you’ve got a smartphone, the Swiss army knife of electronic devices, handy in your pocket. Fill it with these six apps, and you’ll have a better chance at making it through the Black Friday madness.
Valet ($3.99, Android) — The last thing you’ll want to do after a long day of hitting the mall is wander a giant parking lot or searching for your lost car, shopping bags dangling from your tired arms like ornaments on a sad human Christmas tree. Set your parking spot with Valet and it guides you back to it with turn-by-turn directions using your phone’s GPS. There’s also a handy timer if you’re in a metered space. An iOS alternative: iCarPark (99 cents).
Heads Up! (99 cents, iOS, Android, Windows Phone) — Whether you’re camped out on a Best Buy sidewalk or waiting in the world’s longest checkout line, this charades-like game is a fun way to pass time while still being social. Hold the phone to your forehead and it displays a phrase. Other players call out clues until you guess it. This one’s also a must-have for theme parks.
Starbucks (free, iOS, Android, Windows Phone) — If there’s any day that calls for caffeine, it’s Black Friday. Aside from finding the nearest location and letting you pay with your phone, this app’s nutrition calculator easily shows how many calories you’re really saving by substituting nonfat milk in that eggnog latte — useful information a day after Thanksgiving bingeing. Prefer indie coffee? Find Me Coffee (free, iOS, Android, Windows Phone), locates and filters the nearest cafes by whether they offer food, WiFi or a drive-thru.
Earthlapse ($1.99, iOS, Android) — Need to get away from the stress of pushy shoppers, blaring Christmas music without leaving the mall? Find a seat in the food court, pop in some headphones and space out with this app’s gorgeous time-lapse views of Earth from the International Space Station paired with soothing ambient music. It puts your personal stress in a much vaster context.
Black Friday (free, iOS, Android) — Search the App Store for “Black Friday” and you’ll get more than 80 results, but of the several high-rated Black Friday apps we tried, this was the simplest to use with the most detailed information. Browse Black Friday deals by store or category, view scans of hundreds of stores’ Black Friday print ads and get Black Friday news updates in real-time. The “wish list” feature makes it easy to strategize your retail attack.
Gift It (free, iOS) — Create mobile shopping lists to keep track of what you need to buy for who and where to get it from, with prices totaled at the bottom and a tracker to keep you within budget. It also tracks what percentage of your shopping is done as you go. Password protection keeps your kids, and anyone else, from accidentally seeing what they’ll have under the tree.