I recently spent a weekend with an old college friend in Charleston, S.C., where I\u2019d negotiated a good hotel deal\u2014or so I thought\u2014two months in advance of our stay.\n\tHanging out by the hotel pool one afternoon, I struck up a conversation with a young couple. Turns out, they got a better room at a much lower rate than I did. How? They booked it at the last minute using Hotels.com\u2019s mobile app.\n\tI\u2019m not really a make-reservations-at-the-last-minute-kind-of-guy. But if you\u2019re willing to play that game and assume some risk, another, similar mobile app, called\u00a0Hotwire, which recently updated its iOS app to take advantage of iPad screens, could also be perfect for you.\n\tHotwire gets you get discounts at hotels that are trying to fill up available rooms at the last minute. Unfortunately, you don\u2019t know the hotel\u2019s name until you pay up front for a non-refundable reservation. That\u2019s where the risk comes in.\n\tThe good news: Hotwire\u2019s iPad app is good looking and easy to use. The app displays a list of hotels on the left of your tablet's screen. To the right, there\u2019s a map that shows hotels' general locations.\n\tThe listing for each hotel includes main amenities, such as fitness and business centers; a star rating based on customer reviews; hotel chains that are representative of specific star ratings; and reviews. You can filter hotels by star rating and minimum recommendation, and you can sort by price, star rating and distance from your GPS location.\n\tHotwire isn' the only player in the last-minute-hotel-deal game, of course. Other similar free apps:\n\t* Priceline for iOS and Android app has a snazzy interface, but its hotel map is cluttered until you zoom in closely;\n\t* Hotels.com for iOS and Android serves up "Tonight\u2019s Local Deals," which are only available to mobile users;\n\t* Hotel Tonight for iOS and Android promises a "vetted" assortment of hotels for last-minute deals;\n\t* And if you're looking for last-minute deals at "premium boutique hotels across Europe," Blink for iOS and Android is the app for you.\n\tAll of these apps can be useful, but they can also quickly turn finding a hotel-room bargain into a science project. In general, I\u2019d stick to one or two apps: Hotwire if you\u2019re willing to take a little risk, Hotels.com if you\u2019re not.