After partnering with a number of big chains to help speed up grocery delivery back in 2021, today Instacart is launching Ready Meals so you can now order hot and pre-made meals from local grocers too.For Instacart, the play is rather straightforward as the company looks to position its Ready Meal Hub as an alternative to more traditional food delivery apps like Seamless, Uber Eats and the like. The only real difference is that instead of ordering food from local restaurants, Instacart is hoping its customers will use Ready Meals to order fresh food like sandwiches, sushi and more from nearby grocery stores, in addition to pre-prepared, ready-to-heat dishes such as take-and-bake casseroles.Just like regular grocery orders, Instacart says its Ready Meals Hub will be available nationwide, with deliveries arriving at your door in as little as 30 minutes. Instacart is partnering with grocers including Publix, GIANT, Food Lion, Hannaford, Stop & Shop, Martins, and Kroger, with plans to add more retailers such as ShopRite in the coming months.The arrival of the Ready Meals Hub in the Instacart app follows the addition of the Convenience Hub last fall, which added the ability to order a range of pantry staples, snacks, and even alcohol from big-name stores like 7-Eleven and others. Another benefit of the new Ready Meals Hub is that because pre-prepared foods can be ordered alongside regular groceries, Instacart is making it easier to order food for a variety of meals or situations with a single purchase.The expansion of Instacart's delivery options serves to further reinforce the increasing popularity of home grocery delivery. According to a recent report from the Food Industry Association (FMI), while most meals in the U.S. are still prepared at home, 55% percent of shoppers noted a desire for more hybrid meal options that contain a mix of semi-prepared and fully-prepared dishes.That said, with Instacart expected to go public later this year, the new Ready Meals Hub is also clearly a way to help maintain strong sales following a record number of orders during the 2021 holiday season.
Don't be shocked if a robot serves you the next time you eat out or go on vacation. LG is bringing its CLOi ServeBot to the US, giving hotels, restaurants and stores a semi-autonomous machine that can ferry up to 66lbs of food and other cargo across a busy space. While humans have to pre-program maps and set destinations, the bot can use a 3D camera, LiDAR and sensors to dodge people and detect when someone has removed an item from a tray.Like other CLOi robots, the ServeBot uses its 9.2-inch touchsreen to both put on a friendly face for guests and take input. It's not fast at 2.2MPH, but its 11 hours of continuous use should be enough for a long workday.This isn't the first LG robot to cross to the US. The Korean tech firm brought its disinfecting UV-C robot to the US in 2021. The timing might be apt, however. American companies are grappling with the combination of job shortages (particularly in service roles) and an evolving pandemic that adds risk to waiting tables or helming a hotel's front desk. ServeBot won't completely replace human workers, but it might lessen the sting of job shortfalls and reduce exposure for workers who frequently have to deal with the public.
Microsoft and Sony are struggling to keep up with demand for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. While Sony plans to keep manufacturing the PlayStation 4 for the time being to make up for its shortfall of current-gen consoles, the Xbox One is no more.We learned in July 2020 that Microsoft had discontinued the Xbox One X and Xbox One S Digital Edition by that point. Now, it has emerged the company quietly stopped making the Xbox One S by the end of that year too. To focus on production of Xbox Series X/S, we stopped production for all Xbox One consoles by the end of 2020, Xboxs senior director of console product marketing Cindy Walker told The Verge.It seems the strategy has paid off. Xbox head Phil Spencer told The New York Times this week that Microsoft has sold more of the Series X and Series S at this point in their lifecycle than it has with any previous Xbox generation, though he didnt reveal actual sales figures. Analyst Daniel Ahmad of Niko Partners said that would put shipments of Series X/S at more than 12 million units.While the more powerful Series X typically sells out minutes after every stock drop (it doesnt help that scalpers are using bots to snap them up), the Series S isnt hard to come by at this point. Its available to buy at the time of writing in the US, UK and Canada at retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop and Walmart. Given that the Series S can handle pretty much everything the Xbox One can except for playing discs it doesnt make a ton of sense for Microsoft to keep making that console.Its a slightly different story for Sony. Save for the disc drive, theres no difference between the two PS5 models. Given the high demand (Sony had sold 13.4 million units by October 2021) and the ongoing supply chain crisis, its harder for most people to score one of those consoles than a Series S right now. As such, Sony told Bloomberg on Wednesday it will keep making the PS4 (which uses less advanced components than the PS5) in 2022, despite reportedly planning to discontinue the console last year. The company's said to be making around a million PS4 units in this year.Sony previously suggested it would support PS4 through 2024. Several of its first-party exclusives are coming to both the current- and previous-gen consoles this year, including Horizon Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7 and God of War Ragnarök.