eBay Introduces Bargain-Hunting Deals App for the iPhone

The biggest shopping day of the year for Americans is this Friday, the dreaded Black Friday, and people are in a consuming mood. At the same time, economic pressures have folks watching what they spend. eBay today introduced a new app that capitalizes on both those impulses, called Deals.

Deals shares a lot of the functionality of the more full featured eBay mobile app, but it specifically targets eBay’s daily deals, and any zero bid items that have less than four hours remaining in their auction times, with no reserve price and free or fixed rate shipping, and a total price that includes shipping costs. In other words, with the deals the app presents, you pay exactly the price listed.

The app opens with a few featured daily deals already displayed in rotation on the main screen. You can then click on category buttons at the bottom, choosing between apparel, sports, computers, instruments, jewelry, electronics, collectibles, and photography to view auctions from those categories that fit the criteria I mentioned above.

The built-in searches are great for idle browsing (and possibly ruinous for those with strong impulse buying urges), but if you want to target items more specifically, you can either search on the fly, or create and save your own custom search. Creating a custom search allows you to specify keywords, a category, and a price range, and also assign an icon that will be displayed alongside the other default categories at the bottom of the app screen.

If you’d rather not save your search, there’s a magnifying glass icon at the top of the app that you can use instead to launch a one-time search. Next to that is another button that lists all the deals found in your most recent search. In use, I found that there wasn’t enough search criteria to ensure truly focused results. I’d love the addition of an “at least x dollars” filter, so that when I search for “iPhone,” for example, I can filter out most accessories and replacement parts.

Finally, you can sign in with your eBay account so that you can pay on the fly for any deal you find via the app with PayPal. The idea behind the app, after all, is to make sure eBay customers have access to the site no matter where they are. Apparently eBay mobile wasn’t driving enough business, and the Deals app is designed to remedy that situation. The app is free in the U.S. store (iTunes link), but beware the hidden costs of shopaholism.