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Try-before-you-buy apps let you sample everything from makeup to furniture

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the future. We may not have flying cars (yet), but in many ways we live a Jetsons lifestyle.

Consider that we all walk around with tiny computers in our pockets. Whenever we want something, we just press a button and – boop – it ends up on our doorstep the next day.

Among my favorite developments borne of online shopping are the try-before-you-buy apps that let you virtually sample everything from jeans to makeup to furniture. They come in handy even if you’re not shopping online and just want a no-hassle way to thoroughly imagine how a product will function in your life before plunking down hard-earned cash.

Some favorites include:

ThirdLove. Who’d have thought getting fitted for a bra would be so less awkward when it’s done by a robot? Created by Niagara Falls native and Lewiston-Porter Senior High School graduate Heidi Zak, the ThirdLove app sizes you by analyzing a photograph you take in the mirror wearing a tight-fitting tank top.

Don’t worry, the pictures don’t show up on your camera roll or anywhere else on your phone, are encrypted before they’re sent and no one looks at them unless there is a sizing issue that requires help from customer service. It’s only available on iPhone but is coming to Android soon.

Makeup Genius by L’Oreal Paris. OK, this one is fun whether you’re in the market for new makeup or not. Everyone in my house has played with it, including my husband and dog.

You scan your face, then virtually try on super realistic “ready-to-wear looks,” created with L’Oreal products. You can add specific products and shades to a shopping list or order them directly through the app.

But if you do decide to buy what you’ve tried, it might be cheaper to look for coupons and buy through another source. For example, the $7.99 Voluminous eyeliner was available for $5.97 at Walmart, even without a coupon.

Sherwin-Williams ColorSnap Studio. Forget those little paint swatches and messy sample pots of color. Neither gives you a good idea of what a paint shade will look like when it fills a whole room. This iPad app lets you choose a color (or match one from a photograph) and virtually paint it onto your walls or siding. Brilliant!

Several other paint brands, such as Valspar, Behr, Glidden and Benjamin Moore; have similar apps.

True Fit. Voted Consumer Reports’ favorite tool, the sizing app is available when shopping through about 20 different retailers, including Macy’s, Guess, Brooks Brothers and Nordstrom.

When you click on a garment from a participating retailer, you’ll see “Find your True Fit” or “View Fit details.” Create your profile and answer a few questions about your size and shape, as well as your best-fitting clothing. From there, it will estimate what sizes will fit you best in other brands. No measuring required. And the more you use it, the better it gets at estimating how a product will fit on your body.

The only thing I would change about this one is that I would make it available at every retailer. I’d gladly forfeit my flying car for the ability to never step foot in another dressing room as long as I live.

Got money-saving tips or questions? E-mail me,, follow me on Twitter, @DiscountDivaSam or “like” me on Facebook,