Staff picks for the week of Oct. 31, 2016

Staff Picks GeneralHappy Friday! Here are the most interesting tech stories our staff read this week.

Instagram wants you to start shopping in the app (Read by Alexandria H.)

Some people use Instagram as a digital photo album of their lives, while others use it as visual inspiration for travel, food, and fashion. If you fall into the latter category, your life may have just gotten a bit easier. This week, Instagram began testing a feature that will allow users to shop within the app. Retailers will be able to identify the products pictured in their photos, so that when users tap on them, they can see product names, descriptions, and pricing. Users will also be able to click “shop now,” which will direct them to the retailer’s website. Right now the functionality is limited to 20 brands, including Warby Parker, J.Crew, and Levi’s, but be on the lookout for additional retailers once the feature is officially released.

This app saves everything you’ve ever looked at on your computer (Read by Alexandria H.)

A new search app called Recall is taking screenshots of everything you’ve ever looked at on your computer or smartphone and making them searchable. My first thought after reading this article was, “why would I want it to do that?” But when you consider that 20 percent of what we search for is for things we’ve already seen, app creator Atlas Informatics may be on to something. What differentiates this search app is that it’s visual, which makes sense since it’s easier for us to recognize images than words. All of the data within the app is encrypted and can be deleted; you can even hit pause if you don’t want it capturing and indexing sensitive information (bank account data, for instance). I was skeptical at first, but this app may be worth a try.

Hollar snags another $30 million for its fast-growing dollar store app (Read by Camillia S.)

I remember in the late 90s when my aunt was obsessed with dollar stores, especially in New York City. They were always crowded with people purchasing discount items they probably didn’t need. Now my aunt can skip the hassle of shopping at the dollar store and download Hollar, an app that lets you get your favorite cheap goods at the click of a button. Unlike bricks-and-mortar dollar stores, Hollar’s items are mostly around the $2 mark, but who wouldn’t pay an extra dollar for a little added convenience? If you think Hollar sounds too good to be true, there is a catch. You can’t checkout unless you have at least $10 worth of items in your cart, and free shipping doesn’t apply until you hit $25. Still sound worth it? It’s available for download in the app store now.

Amazon’s new reading app for kids combines humor and text messages (Read by Heidi B.)

With its wide variety of e-books and e-readers, Amazon has been a valuable adult reading resource for years, and now it’s expanding its literary scope to kids. For just a few dollars a month, subscribers receive access to hundreds of short stories via the new Amazon Rapids app. What makes this app stand out is the format of the stories: the silly tales are disguised as a text message conversation between characters that kids can read at their own pace. I don’t have kids, but I can already imagine my niece and nephew giggling away at Amazon Rapids stories!

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