Late last night, the team was delighted to discover that our dinner bill app Plates has been listed as the #1 Best New App in the Utilities section of the Apple App Store.
We released version 1 of Plates in July 2013 to great critical and popular success; both BusinessInsider and MSN Money covered the tool, and user reviews in the App Store have been overwhelmingly positive (average rating 4.5).
This latest recognition from Apple feels amazing, and confirms our belief that we’ve made a world class app to help friends avoid awkward conversations about money after enjoying a meal together (yuck). We’re tremendously proud of our intern Liz Neu, who built Plates with limited assistance from Caleb and Ryan and has been steadily shipping updates to the app while finishing up her final year of undergrad. Most recently, Liz optimized Plates for iPad (it’s currently listed as the #2 Best New Utility App for iPad as well).
We’re incredibly grateful to all the Splitwise users who have given Plates a whirl. We look forward to providing you with ever more, ever better solutions to all of life’s splitting problems.
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).
This morning, we were delighted to discover that TIME has included our app in The 50 Best iPhone Apps, 2013 edition. We’ve spent a lot of time polishing our iPhone app to make it as delightful as possible, and it’s wonderful to get this kind of recognition. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the wonderful parts of the app we’ve made; we are mostly focused on all the flaws we want to fix.
We also know our Android app is simply not this good yet. If you’re one of our Android users, you know we’ve only recently started making updates to the app again and they’ve seemed pretty small.
The secret is that I’ve been laying the groundwork in those updates to get the Android app up to the level of quality you see in the rest of our software. Right now, most of the engineering team is in the middle of a major redesign of our Android app that I can’t wait to get in your hands.
Owning a home – it’s one of those things that we’re told we should do from early on in life. Home ownership is considered a status symbol that separates the middle class from the poor class. Wikipedia even states that a core pillar of the the American dream is owning property.
This is why even when living in a location where it’s better to rent than buy, many people are insistent on owning a home. Since the housing market bottomed out and loans are difficult to obtain, finding an alternative way to sell or own a home has become a necessity. One option is a “lease to own” contract between a buyer and homeowner. The future buyer will rent the property for a period of time, then have the option to purchase the home at the end the lease.
Are you one of the 8.1 million people who stream music over the internet on a weekly basis? I am, along with most people I know. Recently Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R -UT) and Jared Polis (D -CO) introduced bill H.R.6480 into the Senate, dubbed the “Internet Radio Fairness Act”. This bill targets the percentage of royalties when it comes to internet radio services and their various providers.
To understand what this bill is trying to solve, you need to know a bit about how music royalties work. Songs have two types of copyrights: one for sound recordings, which are usually owned by the artists and labels; and one for musical composition (words in the song). These are usually owned by the person who wrote the song and the company that published it.
Are humans born with a sense of fairness built in from birth?
Originally it was thought that children go through three big developmental stages. Young kids (2 to 4 years old) are purely selfish, while older children (5 or 6) will follow a strict equality rule. When children become older (7 or 8) they start to consider the individual contributions of others. The thought being older children are more aware of their surroundings and less impulse driven.
A recent study finds that children will start to evaluate these contributions earlier than expected. Patricia Kanngiesser from the University of Bristol led and published a study about fairness starting in children at the age of three. She said:
“It seems to be intuitive, People have found that even by 18 months of age, children have expectations about how things should be shared fairly.”
Here at Splitwise we talk a lot about roommates, money and fairness. While that is fun and all we don’t spend our entire lives thinking about these 3 things. We also like other stuff, like science and technology. This week California’s governor Jerry Brown signed the SB1298 bill into effect. This bill states that driverless cars can now operate on California’s state roads legally.
Last week, New York City approved a ban on large sugary drinks being sold at certain vendors around the city that will start in March of 2013.
NYC businesses that get inspected and graded by the health department will no longer be able to sell sugary drinks over 16oz. If the restaurant has a self serving beverage dispenser then they can’t even give out cups over 16 oz in their establishment (refills are allowed though). There will still be locations within NYC that aren’t effected by this 16oz rule though. Convenience stores, newsstands and vending machines can sell any drink, whatever size. Time has a great breakdown on what is allowed and what is not.
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.
People are pretty worked up about Chick-fil-a’s president Dan Cathy’s stance on marriage. He was recently asked about his support of traditional marriage being between a man and a woman in an interview for the Baptist Press. He was quoted:
“Well, guilty as charged,” said Cathy when asked about the company’s position.
“We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
This of course turned into a political crapstorm. Both sides of the fence jumped on these comments and reacted strongly. Many people screamed boycott, the Henson Company pulled their Muppet toys from Chick-fil-a children’s meals. The mayor of Boston went so far as to write a letter to the company informing them they aren’t welcome in his city. Other cities like Chicago and San Francisco followed in line, telling them to take their business elsewhere.