When creepy is worth it: tracking purchases with Slice

Slice is an app that will know everything you've ever bought online--but that's actually okay

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Heard about personal data security and privacy lately? Oh, yes, you have. Allow me to provide a tonic, a refreshing change of scenery, or, at the very least, a neat app recommendation. It totally opens up a huge part of your life to a corporate entity, but I think you’ll be okay with that. At least if you like to buy things.

Slice is an app that looks through your Gmail or Yahoo Mail account and regularly searches for confirmation messages from retailers, then makes them really simple to track. You can manually feed items to Slice with a standard username/password account, but that’s not all that helpful.

A few purchases in Slice--yes, I really do buy white kitchen towels in 8-packs from Amazon

The real convenience is in having a service that emails you, or sends a ping to your phone, when items are arriving soon, or when prices on your items drop. You can even fine-tune Slice’s inbox scanning to skip the items that aren’t really “delivered” to you, as in the case of a NameCheap domain (shown in image below). Slice also serves as a universal database of purchases for searching them out and enacting returns. Sure, they’re in your inbox, but just try searching the word “Amazon” or “dress” on an inbox that’s more than three years old.

Slice is available for Android and iPhone, and it’s a well-made app all around. But why should we willingly give Slice access to our entire personal inbox, when apps are going before Congress for far less? A few reasons:

  • You know what you’re giving Slice up-front. Slice asks you to give it access to your Gmail or Yahoo account, through an authorization that can be revoked at any time. Other useful apps, like TripIt, have used email scanning to provide services you don’t even have to think about, and without any cause for Google to pull their access.

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