Save time and money: shop smarter with your iPad or iPhone

Shop smarter with your iPad or iPhone
Apps don't buy style, sadly

Shopping divides us. It's either a necessary evil to be endured as infrequently as possible, or a fun leisure activity to be stretched out over the course of an entire Saturday.

If you're in the former camp, you'll want to do as much of it as possible from the comfort of your sofa. Thankfully there are hundreds of apps to help. Whether its the weekly groceries, a new TV or an entire room's worth of furniture, you can buy anything you need with a few taps on an iPad's screen.

If you view shopping as a leisure pursuit rather than a chore, there are plenty of apps to help you make it even more fun.

Find the best prices before you leave home, grab a bargain, get rewarded just for visiting a shop, and book a restaurant for lunch with a friend afterwards - it can all be done from your iPhone.

Offline shopping

Online shopping is all very well, but you can't shop for everything from your sofa. And let's face it, shopping trips to the high street or out-of-town shopping centre can be, er, fun. Sometimes. The key to taking the stress out of a trip to the shops is planning. That means deciding where you're going to go, how you're going to get there and what you're going to buy. OK, you don't need military precision, but having a fair idea has to help. Right?

Of course, planning means lists. There are several apps specifically designed to help you make lists for grocery shopping; Groceries (£1.49, iPhone and iPod touch), for example, lets you choose specific goods from a pre-populated database and save them for later. You can can also share lists with friends and family members.

Shop smarter with your iPad or iPhone

OurGroceries (Free, iPhone and iPod touch) is less structured, allowing you to choose generic categories like 'bread' and 'milk'. Again, you can share your lists with friends. ShopShop (Free, Universal) is the simplest of the lot, allowing you just to create basic lists.

However, our favourite is Clear (69p, iPhone and iPod touch). It's not aimed at shopping particularly, but is a great way to create lists of any type and works very well for groceries.

You could also use the Reminders app to maintain a shopping list and share it. Create a new list in iCloud, hover over its name and tap the wireless icon on the right, then enter the email address of the person with whom you want to share it. That way you can both update and check it whenever you go shopping.

Getting to your favourite shopping centre can be stressful on its own. Luckily, there are several apps to help. If you're travelling by train, National Rail Enquiries (Free, iPhone and iPod touch) or UK Train Times (£4.99, iPhone and iPod touch) will help you decide which one to get. NextBuses (69p, Universal) will help if you want to travel by bus and live in England, Scotland or Wales.

RingGo (Free, iPhone and iPod touch) lets you find local car parks and pay for your parking within the app. It doesn't cover every car park in the country, but does have 4,000 sites in its database, so it's worth checking to see whether there are any near where you'll be shopping. At the very least, it will save you having to search your pockets for coins to fill the machine once you've parked.

Shop smarter with your iPad or iPhone

Before you head into the high street, download Quidco (Free, iPhone, iPod touch). As well as finding special offers at local shops and restaurants, it lets you earn rewards simply for 'checking in' to a store while you're out and about. If you register a credit or debit card with the app, you can also earn cashback when you use it to pay while you're shopping.