Nov 23, 2012 (03:11 AM EST)
8 Essential Black Friday Apps

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10 Great Windows 8 Apps
10 Great Windows 8 Apps
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Black Friday crowds can be a tough and unruly lot. The stakes for savings are high, tension is in the air, and few are yet feeling the "holiday spirit" of peace and goodwill toward men. The good news is that you have an ally at your side. This ally will help you find the best deals, see what's in stock at your favorite stores, and perhaps even make purchases without going anywhere. Of course, we're talking about your smartphone.

On Black Friday, your smartphone can serve as much more than a communications tool. Make it your full-fledged shopping assistant. Here are some applications for Android and iOS devices that can help you survive Black Friday and maybe even score the deal you're seeking.

1. RedLaser: RedLaser, a barcode-scanning application developed by eBay, uses your smartphone's camera to read the barcode of any item in any store. The app then searches for that product associated with that barcode and tells you what local retailers stock the item and how much it costs. Here are the links for Android and iPhone.

2. Amazon Mobile: Amazon.com needs no introduction, but its smartphone app might. Rather than surf to the website in your smartphone's browser, use the mobile app instead. It's much faster and more reliable at returning the search results you need. You might just discover that the sale item you're considering is cheaper if you buy it from Amazon. Use it for price comparisons. Here are the links for Android and iPhone.

3. Target: Target's mobile application supports accounts and individual shopping lists, and also offers the weekly flyer/ad for your local Target store. This means you can have the flyer with you without carrying around the folded up piece of paper. Here are the links for Android and iPhone. (Other retailers that offer similar functionality include Best Buy, Walmart, Walgreens, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart, and so on.)

4. Your Bank or Credit Card: Can't remember how much money you have in your checking or savings accounts, or what your credit card balance is? Be sure to install your bank's mobile app. Many of the major banks (Chase, PNC, Capital One, Bank of America, TD Bank) have their own mobile apps that let you check balances, transfer funds, and even make deposits. Make sure you know your balances when out shopping for Black Friday deals to you don't break the bank. Here are links for Android and iPhone.

5. Apple Store: This app is only for iPhones, but can be an indispensable tool for helping navigate Apple's Black Friday deals. Not only does it provide direct-from-your-phone shopping, but also can be used to find local Apple retail stores and store hours. Here is the link for iPhone.

6. Google Wallet: This app is only for select Android devices, and can be used to help save some time at the register. Google Wallet works on Android smartphones such as the Nexus S, Galaxy Nexus, and Nexus 4. It uses NFC (near-field communications) and your bank card to make tap-and-go payments at participating retailers. Here is the link for Android.

7. Starbucks: This app for Androids and iPhones can be used to find the closest Starbucks location. It can also be used to manage your Starbucks account, and even make mobile payments at the register. C'mon, you know you're going to need to refuel at some point during the day. Here are the links for Android and iPhone.

8. Angry Birds Star Wars: What, a game, you ask? Yes. You know why? Because you're going to be spending a lot of time in line waiting to pay for all those Black Friday deals. Why not kill that time playing a simple and amusing game? Angry Birds Star Wars is the most fun version of the foul-tempered fowl game from Rovio and it's cheap. Here are the links for Android and iPhone.

Upgrading isn't the easy decision that Win 7 was. We take a close look at Server 2012, changes to mobility and security, and more in the new Here Comes Windows 8 issue of InformationWeek. Also in this issue: Why you should have the difficult conversations about the value of OS and PC upgrades before discussing Windows 8. (Free registration required.)