Go-Go Amazon Go Store, FitBit Expands, Apple Squared, & T-Mobile – This Week in Tech
Hope all of you AweTechies had a happy week! There’s plenty to recap in the world of tech so let’s dive in!
Amazon’s Check-Out-Free and Line-Free Store
Amazon generated a big buzz earlier this week with the announcement of their Amazon Go Store or the “How to Look Like a #Teef Without Stealing Experiment”. Jokes aside, the general premise is really cool. Customers (with the Amazon Go app installed) would walk into the establishment, pick up the items they need (a little milk here…maybe some Captain Crunch…ooo Eggos…)–and then walk out. Their Amazon account would then be charged for the items they’ve taken.
The system is expected to work through a series of sensors and RFID tags, which will track all the Cup of Noodles you decide to throw in your purse. Right now the 1,800 sq ft. retail space is in beta and only available to Amazon employees in Seattle and the options you can buy are centered around ready-to-eat meals, meal kits, and grocery essentials like bread. Admittedly the action of just taking what you need and bouncing looks pretty sketchy in the promo video. Maybe I’m just naturally suspicious but I sat watching, my face contorted into the “hmm” emoji as the customers suspiciously place sandwiches and drinks in their bags and skipped out of the store.
Right now the 1,800 sq ft. retail space (located at: 2131 7th Ave, Seattle, WA, on the corner of 7th Avenue and Blanchard Street) is in beta and only available to Amazon employees in Seattle. There are plans to open to the store to the public in early 2017. Naturally I have a ton of questions–does this mean people without the app are barred from coming in? Can you sign up on site? Say I do have an account on my phone, but someone else has it and decided to go grocery shopping for their life–what the hell am I supposed to do then? Hopefully I’ll actually get to test this myself with a personal trip to Seattle–stay tuned!
FitBit Acquires Pebble–Pebble Shuts It All Down
In the “olden days” of smart devices, Pebble was a huge leader and innovator. Born from a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2012, over the years Pebble has been the darling of the smartwatch world, often cited as the catalyst for the popularity of the now ubiquitous product. However, it seems as though its days are quickly coming to an end, as trends show that not only is the wearables market not as hot as it was, but Pebble sales have been on a downward trend for the last few years.
FitBit CEO James Park confirmed the impending acquisition, and that it’s buying mainly “key assets”, such as its platform and software. Reports say that FitBit is purchasing Pebble for less than $40M. Worse for Pebble fans is that they announced on their company blog that the company has “ceased its daily operations, and is no longer producing or selling smartwatches”. In offering up further clarity, Pebble included a laundry list of items that they would either stop doing altogether, and last activities they’d be involved in before they fully shutter– returning kickstarter funds to supporters.
Square Cash is Newest Apple Pay Entry
In a huge win for Square, CEO Jack Dorsey (also CEO of Twitter), has announced that Square Virtual Payment Cards are now integrated with Apply Pay. The virtual payment cards were launched in September of this year and allows users to buy items in apps and on websites with the money in their Square account. A “digital debit card” number, expiration, and CVV code is generated and users can plug in that data when checking out.
This new Apple Pay announcement now means that Square can expand their footprint much further than before as people that that use the SquareCash app can now tap into the funds in their account and pay for things wherever Apple Pay is accepted. With increased methods of payment and ease of use, this will help Square get a leg up on rivals like Venmo.
T-Mobile Creates One Number to Rule Them All
T-Mobile has announced a new feature called Digits that will let customers use one phone number across a range of devices–and we do mean huge range. While Digits will cost an extra monthly fee to use (no one yet on how much), the new service promises to let customers use one phone number for multiple devices or multiple phone numbers on one device.
For example, if you go for the one-to-multi setup, someone could dial one phone number which can then ring your connected phone, second phone, tablets, smartwatches, PCs and more–up to five connected devices per number. If you went for the latter option, you can have up to five numbers on one devices. You can even have a setup where one phone number rings multiple people–great for if you’re building a business. For all of this to work all you need is an internet connection.
It’s important to note that the technology isn’t new nor the first–Google Voice, AT&T NumberSync and more have been able to do similar for awhile now, and the Digits service seems to both crib and expand on these services. The biggest issue with Digits however is that it doesn’t work with iMessage–which is potentially a huge issue for the millions of iPhone users that wouldn’t even try Digits if they were told they’d have to turn off iMessage.
The public beta sign up is available now and open to all postpaid T-Mobile customers with Simple Choice or T-Mobile ONE with accounts in good standing. If you’re interested, you can sign-up here: T-Mobile Digits SignUp.