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Call to duty: Black (Friday) apps

Smartphone apps can give the doorbusting Black Friday shopper an advantage over all the other early birds. (Source: Google Play) Smartphone apps can give the doorbusting Black Friday shopper an advantage over all the other early birds. (Source: Google Play)

(RNN) – You are surrounded by coffee-fueled, sleep-deprived, multi-layered bargain hunters in Crocs with bloodshot eyes. Lines of the huddled masses zig and zag through aisles, around palettes of boxes and out the automatic front doors – the kind that like to close on you if you stand still too long.

Yet despite those throngs of thrift-seekers – even the ones who skipped soap and toothpaste in favor of a 30-minute jump on the crowd – you remain calm. Why, you ask? Because you are ready.

And no, it's not because of those Zumba classes (although you look fantastic). And it wasn't that montage-worthy breakfast of raw eggs and one-armed pushups.

The reason you're so cool on Black Friday is because you read this article. Aren't you glad you did?

Much like any other daunting undertaking, preparation is the key. With some of the best (free!!!) apps available for your smartphone, tablet, mini-tablet and mini-mini-tablet (which is a smartphone, I guess) you'll not only have done your homework, you'll have most of it done for you.

TGI Black Friday

By Ecatcher, Inc., for Droid and iPhone

This app features lists of sales items for a bunch of major retail stores, and it's broken down into several lists to help you find what you want quicker. Black and white Black Friday ad scans are available, but you have to download a PDF.

It allows you to compare prices and it promises "frequent" updates.

Black Friday App, Inc., for Droid and iPhone

Hey cool, I like Best Buy. Nice Samsung Blu-ray player with Wi-Fi! Let me compare prices … Crash. OK, let's try that again and … Crash. Buh bye.

Black Friday $$$ Coupons

Mobile Coupons by Shopular, for Droid

It lacks the organization of TGIBF, but this one is great for the ad scourers. It's easy to use and has full color scans from Target, Walmart, Macy's and other big boxes without the download. Promises daily updates on sales papers.

Under "All Deals" are the in-store coupons and sales going on through the week. Remember when coupons were made of paper??!? Ahh, the dark ages.

Black Friday

Centirion Mobile Ltd., for Droid

Actual description in the Google Play store: "Get the latest deals, specials and sales of Black Friday 2011!" Cue Huey Lewis!

So take me away, I don't mind … But you better promise me, I'll be back in time … Gotta get back in time …

Once you get past the outdated description, this Amazon-only app does show you real-time deals available from the online giant. "Lighting Deals" shows items on big sales for a limited time (really limited, about 1 1/2 hours) in limited quantities.

Black Friday

FatWallet, Inc., for iPhone

This strong app breaks things down into two major groups: Store and Categories. Stores are even featured alphabetically, which somehow was missed by others. All in all, probably the best mix of simplicity and comprehensive deals.

"View Ad Scan" is featured prominently at the top, and it pulls up in high resolution and color. It even features the Walmart ToyLand Book in addition to the Black Friday deals.

Whatever app(s) you end up going with, a nice feature on many is the personal shopping list. These allow you to line up everything you want to buy and cross them off as you juke, spin and high step past the competition.

Stiff arms are frowned upon by store staff, but hey, it's your world. And remember – if you miss the doorbusters, you still have Cyber Monday.

Happy and safe shopping out there.

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