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iOS shopping apps: bar code scanners

Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, and though I can't help you beat the lines or navigate through the crowds, I've rounded up a few apps that might make your holiday shopping a tiny bit easier.

iPhone (Credit: CNET)

This week's post is a special early edition of my weekly iOS app collection. Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year, and though I can't help you beat the lines or navigate through the crowds, I've rounded up a few apps that might make your holiday shopping a tiny bit easier.

These apps are made for price-checking on the go, so you know you're getting the lowest price for the item in front of you. The best apps in this category are the ones that locate the item online and in nearby stores, but even apps that are only strong at scanning will definitely help to organize your holiday shopping and will hopefully result in fewer Black Friday headaches.

This week's iOS app collection is all about tools for holiday shopping. Get quick access to a huge database of products and prices and some helpful shopping tools.

Amazon Mobile

Amazon Mobile scanned just about everything we threw at it and gave several results to browse through.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Amazon Mobile (Free) is a great one-stop-shopping or price-checking app on the iPhone and will be familiar and intuitive to use for many because it closely resembles the popular online shopping destination. You'll need a strong data or Wi-Fi connection to browse Amazon.com's vast database of merchandise, but you'll generally be able to find anything you need that the retail giant sells. Deals, recommendations, and other tools you find on the Web site have also made it into this app, and you can log in to see your wish lists and shopping cart if you have an account with Amazon. Best of all, you can buy products with a touch of your finger--especially useful if your credit card information is already on file at the Amazon Web site.

Apart from the usual searching and browsing, Amazon has given its app special mobile powers that make the most of the iPhone's features. In addition to taking photos of items for later reference and purchasing, you can also search for items by scanning the bar code. Like other apps in this category, Amazon Mobile uses the iPhone camera to perform the task, then matches the results (surprisingly well) to its database.

Overall, if you're out and about shopping for the holidays, Amazon Mobile is a great and familiar companion to have for quick price checking and searching for better deals.

Shop Savvy Barcode scanner

The scanner quickly scans barcodes and QR codes or you can shake the phone for a random deal.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Shop Savvy Premium Barcode Scanner & QR Reader (Free) is one of many in the iTunes App Store, but its fast scanning and unique added features make it a handy shopping companion when checking prices. Like other apps in the category, ShopSavvy lets you use your iPhone camera to "scan" a bar code, then view the item and prices from various locations, and you can scan QR codes at the touch of a button. The interface is set up to be as simple as possible, but it offers nice touches such as the ability to initiate a scan by swiping upward on the product display screen.

After a bar code scan, you're presented with an image of the item and given places to shop for it online or at nearby stores (Shop Savvy uses your location), online reviews of the product, and the ability to share your findings via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. Shop Savvy keeps your search history so you can go back and find things you wanted to buy, but you can also categorize your items in lists that are neatly arranged in folders you create.

Overall, Shop Savvy is a great bar code scanner with a slick interface that's easy to use. If you're out making a big purchase and want to check prices in other locations, this app is a great thing to have on your iPhone.

TheFind

This app had no trouble scanning anything, and the added shopping tools that work with the Web site make it extremely handy.

(Credit: Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

The Find (Free) is a shopping comparison app from TheFind that lets you scan bar codes and search for products the way the Amazon Mobile app does, but offers a number of other features that will be especially useful to the Black Friday (or any) shopper.

Start with a quick scan of a product's bar code or enter a text search, and The Find will return a list of prices from the Web. The Find uses the technology from RedLaser, an amazingly accurate scanning app that was one of the early success stories in this genre in the iTunes App Store. Once you've scanned something you have the option to browse tabs at the top, showing the results by Web sites, stores near your location, or from a list of stores you prefer, which can be added by hitting a small plus sign graphic in each listing. You also get a nice description of each item without ever leaving the app.

Beyond its price-checking capabilities, The Find gives you added extras to make your shopping experience more affordable and convenient. Once you're registered at TheFind's Web site, you can use the site to find deals while at home, add them to your favorites on the site, then access all your shopping deals on your iPhone while in the trenches on Black Friday. As an added bonus, The Find will even show you a map to each store, so you'll be able to locate the store, brave the lines, find your deals, and get out of there all with the help of one shopping app.

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