All these apps are free. This article is one of a series of articles about the best Android apps available as of the beginning of 2014. Click here for the main article that includes links to this article and links to all the other categories of “The Best Of” apps for beginning 2014. This article is for the shopping apps category available at the beginning of 2014.
The Amazon app [phones] [tablets] (not to be confused with the Amazon App Store, also reviewed below) is a native front end to the Amazon online store (not the app store). This provides most of the features in the web site (if not all of them… I’ve, by no means, researched each and every feature of this massive web site).
This app is useful for obvious reasons in addition to the fact that you can be browsing in a brick and mortar store, like Wal-Mart, pick up an actual item off the shelf and scan its barcode into this app and it’ll tell you what you can get it for on Amazon.
I won’t go into extreme detail of what this app does. If you’re familiar with Amazon.com, you already have a good idea. You can, of course, track your Amazon.com orders with this app too. Not much has changed from my review of it last year. It’s still a good, solid app and I highly recommend it, even if you don’t purchase anything from them, at least you can do some comparison price shopping while walking around inside other stores.
Amazon App Store
Download Here. One of the great things about Android is that you’re NOT locked into just ONE app store, like you are with iOS and Windows Phone. You don’t have to root or “jail brake” your Android phone to install another app store. It’s perfectly legitimate to do so on Android and is activated with just a simple settings change on any Android phone or tablet.
The Amazon Android App Store is a direct competitor to the Google Play app store that’s pre-installed on almost every Android device made (with the exception of the really cheap and crappy Chinese Android products).
This app has been improved significantly from this time last year. It still has some issues though. For example, it still doesn’t have a “What’s New” section for each app. Apps are not updated nearly as often here as they are in the Google Play Store. Installing an app seems to take significantly longer and they do NOT install in the background. You HAVE to wait until the app finishes installing before leaving the App Store, or next time you come back to the App Store, you’ll find (even days or weeks later), that it hasn’t finished installing your app yet.
One thing I really like about the Amazon Android App Store is their Free App Of The Day. Every day, they GIVE AWAY a PAID app. In other words, it’s an app that’s NOT free on any other day, but on THAT day, you get it for free!
To Install It:
On your phone, go to Settings –> Security –> Unknown Sources
and make sure it’s checked.
Then go to this URL to download it to your phone (or Google search for “Amazon App Store”).
Amazon Price Check
This app [Amazon App Store] [Google Play] lets you scan barcodes while in a real store and compare the prices to Amazon… Not sure why this is a different app from the Amazon app, which provides the same functionality.
This is a nicer and more responsive native app [Amazon App Store] [Google Play] than trying to use the ebay website from your mobile browser. If you’re familiar with ebay, you already know what you can do with this app. If not, just look at these screen shots and those should pretty much tell you what you need to know. On the left is my screen shot from last year (logged in). On the right, from this year (not logged in).
[Google Play] This is a front end to the Best Buy web site and is very useful when you’re in a physical Best Buy store. If you’ll notice, most products have a ticket on the shelf with a price, a small description, and a 2D QR bar code. Scan it with this app and you’ll get the full details of the product. No significant changes from last year’s review, though I’ll point out that I now seem to lose my logon and have to continuously log on. Since my passwords are long and complex and stored in LastPass, this is very frustrating.
You can also check the balance of your Best Buy gift cards by simply taking a picture of the back of your gift card.
If you’re a RewardsZone member (and if not, WHY NOT?), you can check on your RewardZone points and even display your RewardZone points on your phone to the cashier at checkout to redeem your points, instead of printing them out at home and bringing them in. You’ll save ink, paper, time, frustration, and money… an the “green” Nazis will sprinkle their happy happy fairy dust on you.
I no longer recommend this app. It tracks too much of your information. I’ve uninstalled it.
[Amazon App Store] [Google Play] The FedEx app is highly useful when you’re tracking a packing you’ve either sent or are expecting to receive (such as one you ordered with say, the Amazon app). The screen shot to the right pretty much sums up what this app does. It’s short and simple… It does the things you expect and nothing fancy.
[Amazon App Store] [Google Play] The UPS app is similar to the FedEx app. It does the same thing, except for UPS shipments. No surprises here. New this year (since my review last year) is the “UPS My Choice” feature.
QR Droid & Barcode Scanner
[Amazon App Store] [Google Play] Both apps “QR Droid” and “Barcode Scanner” let you scan those 2D barcodes you’re seeing everywhere. They usually represent a URL and it’s extremely convenient to scan them in places like BestBuy on product tags on the shelves or on movie posters or even on web sites on your desktop computer to load up the URL on your phone. Installing QR Droid also gives you the ability to create your OWN QR Codes. For example, you can send a contact from your contacts to it and it’ll display as a QR code on your screen. Someone else can scan your screen with their phone and receive your contact. If you’re on a web page, you can share the web page to the app and it’ll produce a QR Code with the URL encoded in it. You can save it and e-mail it or publish it on your website, or show it on your screen to let someone else scan it. But, since we’re in the “Shopping” apps category here, you can use it to scan 2D QR Codes in stores to get more information on the products and to even compare prices.
[Google Play] The Kroger app is a master app for all the stores shown in the screen shot:
- Food4Less Fremont
- Foods Co
- Fred Meyer
- JayC Food Stores
- King Suupers
- Pay Less Super Markets
- QFC Quality Food Centers
Kroger is the parent company for all these grocery stores. This app works with all of them. If you have a customer loyalty card at any of these stores (and if you don’t, WHY NOT?) they all work at all those stores. This app will let you browse coupons and add them to your card. When you check out, if you’ve put any of those products in your cart, when you swipe your card at the register, all those coupons are applied. You can check your fuel points too and see the weekly ads. This is a MUST HAVE app if you shop at any of these grocery stores.
That’s not a typo. That’s actually what it’s called. This app is dropped from last year’s recommendation because it appears it’s no longer available.
Google went on a rampage last year, axing many apps. Google Shopper was one of them. So, this is no longer available. But see “Google Offers” below. But, here’s my review from last year: Google Shopper integrates with “Barcode Scanner” (reviewed above). Scan any barcode and this app will find multiple sources for that product. This is probably the best way to find the best price on anything. Use this when shopping in any physical store to decide whether or not it’s worth buying that product in your hands now, or somewhere else.
New on this year’s list, Google Offers, I believe, is somewhat of a replacement for Google Shopper. I have chosen to NOT install it because you have to enable both GPS location services AND location history. That’s too much for my personal taste, but if you don’t mind your personal location being tracked and recorded, then this app can provide you some savings. From their description:
“Now with Google Offers, you don’t have to pay to get offers. No need to buy them, just save offers to your account and redeem with your phone when you shop.
The app helps you discover relevant offers from local businesses and big brands, and keeps track of offers you find on Google Search, Maps, and more.
You can use them straight away, or the app will remind you next time you’re near the store. Then, all you do is open the app to show your offer at checkout—no printing needed.”
Gift Shopper Pro ($0.99)
[Google Play] [Amazon App Store] New on this year’s list. This was a free app of the Day on the Amazon App Store, so I got it free. This is a great app for keeping track of gifts you’re buying for loved ones for any holiday or occasion you need to track. It is tablet friendly as well.
Available for free [Amazon App Store] (and likely pre-installed) for T-Mobile customers, this app does many things, but my family uses it for a shared and immediately live shopping list. Whenever I discover I’m out or running low on something, I’ll pull my phone out and enter it onto our shopping list. When my wife or I are getting groceries, we’ll pull out this list on our phones and check off the items as we put them in our buggy. What’s great is if I remember something after my wife has already left for the store, I just add it to the list, and she’ll see it while she’s shopping. A non-carrier specific shared shopping list app that’s very popular is “Out Of Milk” [Amazon App Store] [Google Play]
You Chime In
What are some of YOUR favorite apps in this category? Let us know in the comments below.
This completes my list of “Best” shopping apps available to start off 2014. There are, of course, other shopping of apps and this is, by no means, a comprehensive list. Some of these are the apps in this category that I use on a daily basis and install on a new phone or tablet as soon as I get it.
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