Things that make life easier and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

There I was on a stationary bike at my gym (which has daycare!) and scrolling through tech and retail news for the weekly roundup and I was about to give up on finding anything exciting. Okay, maybe I’m a little spoiled from all the amazing tech (hello, Pluto) but this week was mostly about earnings (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc).

And then I found this little nugget: Google search can now tell you if a store is crowded. I don’t know about you but I think that’s a big deal.

As a relatively new mom, I never wanted to get caught in crowded stores and long lines, hence my preference for online shopping, online form fillers, online payments, etc. I always have this fear that my baby will suddenly start bawling in the middle of it all and I will be helpless in the face of all that fury. I even wondered if there’s an app that could tell me if a store I was going to will be crowded or not. Then I thought, how will an app gather that info – crowd sourcing similar to Waze?

Of course Google is way ahead. Using the location services on Android phones (in the same way it can give you an estimate on traffic), a search of a grocery store for example can tell you when the busiest times of the week are:


It’s not clear yet how wide the coverage is and it looks like it doesn’t work for some people but it’s yet another way for Google to leverage the Android platform adoption. Maybe not as exciting as the Pluto flyby but it’s exciting for the more mundane aspect of life, no?

In another way that a tech startup is making lives easier (at least for immigrants in the US), SimpleCitizen launched this week to make applying for a green card in the US as simple as filing taxes. I always thought that an immigration form filler would be a game changer because it’s relatively standardized but the sheer amount of paperwork can be so daunting and rife with emotional stress. I should know, I have spent thousands of dollars for immigration paperwork (lawyer fees) only because I didn’t want the stress. SimpleCitizen costs a flat fee of $249 plus $99 for a personalized lawyer review, if you want to be extra sure. Hopefully, the company will expand to other visa categories in the future.

Finally, here’s something I wanted to work on if I knew how to code – finding information on gas prices while on the road. I mean, sure, who really has the time and the inclination to look for cheap gas but I never like paying such a premium when a couple of blocks later, I find a place for 50 cents less. For now, at least Costco helps and of course, one day, we will be mostly driving electric cars anyway but it was just a thought.

And if these mundane matters don’t interest you, try posting a question to physicist Stephen Hawking as he hosts a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) which started on Monday, July 27 until next Tuesday, August 4 at 8 AM EDT.

Here are the most relevant news in tech and retail this week:

  1. Earnings: LinkedIn shares jump and then slide even with higher than expected earnings, reports lower ad sales; Facebook earnings beat expectations but expenses are on the rise at 82% from the same quarter a year ago; Twitter earnings also beat expectations but execs warn on user growth; Samsung net profits fall as the mobile division sees low smartphone shipments and increased marketing spend, expects to adjust Galaxy S6 pricing
  2. Software code hosting and collaboration platform Github raises $250M in Series B round led by Sequoia Capital
  3. CVS Pharmacies and IBM’s Watson supercomputer partner up to improve health care management services
  4. More on Google: Google’s Project Loon high altitude balloons partners with the government of Sri Lanka to provide seamless access to the Internet, Sri Lanka will be the first country to have universal Internet access; Google partners with Aclima to equip some Google Street View cars with equipment to track air pollution in real time
  5. Uber invests $1 billion in India as company expects to see 1M trips/day over the next nine months

In retail:

  1. Amazon: Amazon proposes drone highway for future flying package delivery; Amazon’s Dash buttons that will automatically order and ship specific household items are now available to Prime members for $4.99/each
  2. Earnings: Kering SA first-half earnings beat expectations as sales at Gucci grew for the first time in 2 years; LVMH first-half net profits up by 5%, sales up by 19%, citing exceptional profitability at Louis Vuitton
  3. Worldwide retail sales (in-store and Internet sales) will reach $22 trillion this year
  4. Apple Watch will be available at Best Buy starting August 7 in the US, and starting August 14 in Canada
  5. Saks Fifth Avenue to open its first shoe-only store in Greenwich, Connecticut in fall 2016



5 thoughts on “Things that make life easier and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

  1. Love this post! Hitting TJ’s when it’s crowded is the WORST! Very helpful.

    Regarding gas prices on the road, I like the feature on Waze. When you look for the closest gas station, it will also show you the prices.


  2. Leah, have you tried They are quite good at crowd-sharing gas station pricing data, and their mobile ap shows the various gas pricing for stations in your or any other US area.


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