Google trying to patent bill splitting while lobbying Splitwise for patent reform

Google bill splitting patent authors using Splitwise
The Google patent authors hypothetically using Splitwise

Last week, we learned from GeekWire that Google has applied for a patent on our bread and butter technology: tracking groups of bills split with friends. The patent application describes a system of shared balances and payments between friends in a group – exactly what Splitwise and some of our competitors have been doing publicly for years. Google currently has no group-splitting product, and one can only assume they are considering adding a splitting service to Google Wallet. (Google, if you want to integrate Splitwise with Wallet, reach out to us).

A thorough search for prior art
The equally ironic prior art search

Obviously, it’s “not a joke” to have a tech giant submit a patent application for exactly what your business has been doing for years. But we couldn’t help but laugh when, within the same week, a lobbyist paid by Google approached us to ask if we would publicly support a patent reform bill. We are literally being lobbied for patent reform and patent-trolled by Google at the same time. Continue reading Google trying to patent bill splitting while lobbying Splitwise for patent reform

Window Issues

When it comes to living spaces windows can be both a blessing and a curse. You’ve either got no light, too much light or noise when it comes to some window pains (pun intended). 

Dear Splitwise,

I have a room in a 3 bedroom apartment that doesn’t have any normal windows but has a skylight. The other two rooms have large windows but face a fairly loud street. What do you think the the rent differential for this would be?

Painful Windows

Continue reading Window Issues

Shelling Out for Dish Duty

Ever have one of those roommates that just can’t seem to ever do their share when it comes to chores around the house? Today we discuss that person who don’t get the importance of cleaning up after themselves while leaving appliances on 24/7.

Dear Splitwise,

I think maybe you guys should make a calculator for roommates who leave appliances on. Sorry, but I’m not paying for you to leave 2 fans and a scentsy on all day. Maybe even one for doing all your dishes all the time since you love to cook and use every dish in the house. There are flies and I’m not waiting for you to do them. Charge them.

Drowning in Dishes

Continue reading Shelling Out for Dish Duty

Bittner vs Hughes – Nerdtastic Restaurant Bill Splitting

Splitting restaurant bills is an awkward business. In the US and many other countries, most restaurants are unwilling to create a separate check for each guest.  As a result, many a lovely night of dining out ends with an awkward fairness problem.

One appealing solution is to just “split the bill,” because the math is easy and everyone contributes. Here the awkwardness is for people living on a tight budget. No one wants to start a fight about a spare change, but a dinner out often crosses the line into real money. If you’re being spendthrift and go out with less thrifty friends, splitting a check can torpedo your spending cash for the week. It’s hardly fair for someone who is broke and orders an appetizer to split with someone who had a few drinks and a main course.

Continue reading Bittner vs Hughes – Nerdtastic Restaurant Bill Splitting

Latrines’ Galore

Today we’re talking about some sweet unconventional housing, hardwood floors, and figuring out how much rent each housemate should pay.

Dear Splitwise,

I am trying to arbitrate a living situation for my daughter and want to share some Outhouses Galorethoughts. Your “Splitwise” rent calculator is ingenious! However it may not work as well with unconventional housing. One thing missing from the calculation is the number of bathrooms. This is a drawback as a typical 4 bedroom house might have only two bathrooms so the MBR rent would be much higher due to the exclusive use of the MBR bath. All other tenants and house guests would use the single remaining bath… much less desirable.

Continue reading Latrines’ Galore

Saving the World, One Microwave at a Time

In today’s Dear Splitwise, we consider the troubles of a super-intense treehugger who lives off-campus with his roommates (and their girlfriends).

Dear Splitwise,Unplug that Microwave!

I live in an student-style apartment with 3 roommates, and we all have separate leases. The only thing not separate is the electricity, and there are a couple issues splitting it based on usage and our guests. Also, I’m an environmentalist, and every month, they hand me a $180 electric bill and asking me to pay for a third of it. To me, this is like saying, “Hey I need you to give me some of your money for something I need that you will not be using that will cause your friends to die, can I get that on the 20th?”

Continue reading Saving the World, One Microwave at a Time

Fridge Overlord

Shelf OverlordDear Splitwise returns this week to settle the issue of shelf space in a fridge that is owned by a roommate. This is common in places like Europe, where household appliances being included with a rental isn’t necessarily the norm.

Hi Splitwise,

I live with three other people in a four-bedroom share house. One of my housemates owns a 400L fridge. She uses between 40-60% of the fridge space, depending on how much food she has at the time. She also claims sole use of the largest and most convenient shelf (there are only three shelves, so no-one else can have their own shelf) and says that this is fair because it is her fridge. If we wanted to have unfettered fridge access, then we should supply our own fridge.

The problem with this – aside from the logistical issues with placing multiple fridges in an average-sized, inner-suburban house – is that the kitchen of a shared house is shared space. We all rent that space. If a housemate wants to carve out a fridge empire or own other large ungainly objects that others can’t freely use, they should do so in their bedroom and leave the common areas to be used equally by all housemates.

What do you think?

Yours Truly,
Shelfless

Continue reading Fridge Overlord