Here’s your daily tech digest, by way of the DGiT Daily newsletter, for Friday, July 19, 2019!

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1. How Amazon Go became Amazon’s most ambitious research project ever

Amazon Go stores

Bloomberg has a great read about Amazon’s Go stores, the cashierless convenience stores where computers do (most of) the work. (Note the article is paywalled, just fire it up in an incognito window).

It turns out that offering all the selection of a 7-Eleven store with about 100x the complexity and cost was actually (surprisingly) Amazon’s most ambitious research project yet.

  • The company spent seven years and hundreds of millions of dollars achieving the current operation.
  • There’s now 14 of Amazon Go stores across America, down from “thousands” imagined during the project.
  • And while Yelp reviews are good (“This is definitely the future of shopping!”) the stores are often quiet: “Some Go stores seem almost deserted except for the lunchtime rush”, writes Bloomberg.
  • “Employees familiar with Amazon’s internal projections say the outlets in Chicago, in particular, are falling short of expectations, and the company has had to resort to raffles and giveaways of tote bags and other branded goodies.”
  • So, at the cost and scale, is the experience and expense worth the difference when compared to a single 7-Eleven store clerk on $15 per hour?

The interesting parts:

  • Three years into the project, Jeff Bezos toured and ‘shopped’ at an early store mockup in a warehouse, which featured a deli with meat and seafood, and a cheese counter.
  • After Bezos “gathered the project executives and told them that while they all had done a fabulous job, the experience felt disjointed.”
  • “Customers would have to wait for meat, seafood, and fruit to be weighed and added to their bill.”
  • “Bezos asked the group to lose the meat and cheese and focus on getting rid of lines and cashiers.”
  • As the project changed, and a pilot kitchen was installed to make food, a weird smell persisted. Amazon spared no expense: it hired a pair of professional smellers to solve the mystery: “The culprit: pickled daikon.”
  • The venture’s success or failure depends on your point of view. Amazon has many physical stores now, not including Whole Foods.
  • An analyst quoted by Boomberg made some pertinent points:
  • “Like so many things Amazon does, I’m sure it doesn’t look at it as a convenience store, doesn’t look at it as a bookstore, but looks at it as a data experiment,” says Neil Stern, a senior partner at McMillanDoolittle, a retail consultant. “The stores themselves are not the big idea.”
  • The experiment continues – in Seattle, approval has been given for a much larger store, at more than 10,000 square feet, deep in the city.

2. DGiT Intelligence: Top 3 best drones for video

DJI Mavic 2 Pro

It’s our third DGiT Intelligence feature, and this week it’s about drones, featuring Jonathan Feist from DroneRush (also on the Android Authority podcast. Take it away Feisty!

“You’ve seen all those spectacular drone videos, now it’s time to shoot some of your own. The drone market is filled with many machines at different calibers for different purposes.

It’s easy to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an amazing flying rig, but if your budget is a little more down to earth, there are some solid options for you to consider.

  • Where we come from, the best overall drones for your dollar are compact, reliable, have good flight time and rock 4K footage from the sky. We have a long list of favorites, but the top three for your dollar are:
  • 3. The Yuneec Typhoon H Plus. This larger drone offers a hexacopter design, that’s six propellers, and a camera that spins 360 degrees to capture the world below. It comes in at about $1800 and flies for around 28 minutes on one charge.
  • 2. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0 is the latest machine in the iconic design. If you haven’t put hands on the DJI Mavic Pro, this is probably the drone you picture in your mind. One of the safest drones in the air, it flies for around 30 minutes, capturing super 4K footage for around $1800.
  • 1. The DJI Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom are the same drone, just with different cameras. Both are best in class for value — don’t miss our review for a breakdown of what’s so great about them. The Pro offers a 1-inch Hasselblad camera while the Zoom offers a smaller sensor but with 2x optical zoom. The DJI Mavic 2 line is compact, folds down for transport and offers some of the best flight characteristics of any drone in this class. You’ll need at least $1249 to get started.


  • Please remember, most countries around the globe have strict drone laws. In the United States, you must register your drone before you can fly and airspace restrictions may limit where you can take to the sky.
  • For more info on these and many other drones, the laws and some helpful piloting tips, visit me over on Fly safe!”

PS. Now, to be honest when Feist first gave me this list, with DJI holding the top two spots, I was like whoa, this isn’t a sponsorship segment, but he assured me, these are actually his recommendations as a professional drone enthusiast. I guess the rest of the industry has some catching up to do?

3. Pixel 4: Google may have finally realized that 4GB of RAM in a smartphone isn’t enough (Android Authority).

4. Google Stadia Pro isn’t Netflix for games, expect one free game a month (Android Authority).

5. Staff picks: 7 things Eric uses every day (Android Authority).

6. The world’s most valuable listed company reported earnings and smashed all forecasts. If you didn’t immediately think: Oh, that’s Microsoft, that’s understandable (VentureBeat).

7. Inside 18 months of turmoil at Grindr: Starting with wanting to make a better world for queer people, then a Chinese gaming company bought it (BuzzFeed).

8. Google and Facebook might be tracking your porn history, researchers warn (CNET).

9. The moon missions gave us way more awesome technology than you realize (Jalopnik).

10. “How did the “right side up” view of the Earth, aka North = up, become the norm for all globes and maps?” (r/askreddit). Including this blood-rushing map (

11. Most clicked link of the week:

📦 The story that Amazon accidentally sold $13,000+ camera gear for $100 on Prime Day was easily our most clicked link. The gear is arriving, after all! (PetaPixel)

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