Supermarket’s Map App Shows Quickest Routes to Things On Your List

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True story: Once, while aimlessly wandering the aisles of a supermarket and wishing I was somewhere else, I caught myself looking up and to the right.

My eyes were instinctively doing what they do when I need to search my computer: looking for the OS X Spotlight icon in the top-right corner.

I needed to find something in the real world and my brain was trying to Spotlight search for it. At that moment, I realized that online shopping was probably going to be a better idea from then on. I also realized that I spend too much time in front of computers.

For those who still enjoy the act of walking around with a cart and picking up their own products, U.K. retail juggernaut Tesco has come up with a new techno solution: turn-by-turn satellite navigation for supermarkets.

Despite the “satnav” nickname, it isn’t satellite technology at all. It depends on good old-fashioned Wi-Fi.

Activate the app as you arrive, and it will show you a map of the store and a suggested route, the quickest possible for finding all the stuff on your shopping list.

The Android-only app is available to a small number of beta testers in a single store, and it’s being released purely in the name of research. Tesco is genuinely curious to find out if, and how, people will use it. Nick Lansley wrote on the company’s technology blog:

“Please note that we won’t be rolling this out to customers in general for a while because we have to think about how useful it’s going to be. The system involves a lot of infrastructure installation in the stores so we need to get all kinds of people involved in thinking about the customer experience. It would be awful if we did all this work but few customers really used it.”

You heard the man, U.K.-based Android-using shopaholics. Get to it.