Despite the fact that the US and Europe are separated only by a body of water—albeit a large one—some technology does not make it across the pond. Popular products in the US, from many big companies, are never shipped over to the UK, France, Germany, or elsewhere.
The reasons are sometimes complex, including regulatory approval (especially from the European Union), but many just seem unfair.
Here are the coolest tech products and services not available in Europe that are in the US.
Amazon Dash buttons
Amazon announced the Dash buttons a few years ago and they are, essentially, a dream come true. You buy them for a small fee, place them around your home, and press the button whenever you need the product.
Each button has its own specific product, whether that’s cleaning, toiletries, soap, or whatever. Pressing the button orders that product through an associated Amazon account—which, by the way, has to have Prime—and sends it on over before you run out.
The ease and convenience of Dash has lead to Amazon expanding the number of suppliers, but the technology still hasn’t come to Europe and Amazon has not confirmed yet if, and when, it will.
A lot of Netflix content
Using a Virtual Private Network—also known as a VPN—was, for European users, the best way to access Netflix. The catalogue of content in the US was, put simply, much better than over here.
Netflix, however, felt differently and has taken steps to cut off access via VPNs meaning that European users can no longer watch just-released movies or hit TV shows like The US Office.
Netflix has pledged that its working on bringing all of its content to the world equally, but so far there seems to be little sign that the catalogue is increasing in quality or quantity in the UK. There are some good shows, of course, but it’s just not as good as the US version.
Amazon Echo, Dot, or Tap
The Echo, Dot, and Tap are Amazon’s portable speakers-slash-assistants that, when positioned correctly, can interpret commands directed at them. These commands, which Amazon calls “skills,” could be buying something (as is Amazon’s want), playing music, checking the weather, and so on.
However, the device has not yet been made available in anywhere but the US which is a shame because, according to the reviews and ongoing feedback, they are really, really useful.
The newer devices—the Dot and Tap—work just like the Echo but are smaller and far more portable, lending themselves to different places in the house.
It’s unclear why they are not available in the UK and Europe as a whole, but hopefully that will change in the future.
Facebook Graph Search
Facebook Graph Search, which is now known as natural language search, is technically available in the UK but only if you change your language to US English. In Europe more generally, where English is not the first language of a country, it’s yet to be made available.
Debuted a few years ago, natural language search enables the user to search for, well, things using natural prose. “Friends who live in Newcastle and like Avicii,” for example, would yield results that matched those two descriptions based on Facebook’s data.
Actually getting the software to work across different languages is likely a complex task, but it would be nice for Facebook to roll it out in the UK without having to pseudo-hack it and look at subtle misspellings of words all day long. (Color, eugh.)
Facebook Moments, launched in 2015, is an app that lets the user categorise photos and videos easily, tagging Facebook friends, and generally helping get a sense of the moment, hence the name.
Unfortunately, however, the technology is not available in Europe because of European Union regulations that prohibit cataloguing the faces of people without their consent. A large part of what Moments does is tag people, usually friends, in photos and this breaks the laws.
This may change now that Britain has opted to leave the EU, but for now Moments is not currently available.
Sending people money via traditional banking apps is, to put it bluntly, annoying. Sort codes and account numbers are fiddly and a single wrong digit can spell disaster for your transfer, which the bank will then process for what seems like forever before sending the money back.
Venmo, however, makes it much easier by using an email or phone number associated with an account to transfer money in an open, communicative way.
The app links to a bank account—obviously—and you add friends, businesses, and so on who can then be paid quickly and simply. It even has an option to log-in via Facebook.
Sadly, Venmo is a US-based company and is not available anywhere else due to government regulations around storing and moving money.
Think of Lyft as the sort of funner, quirkier alternative to Uber, which is very much about efficiency and speed. Cars that are registered to Lyft, for example, have big pink moustaches on the front which helps to signify who they are.
The system works just like Uber: Drivers download the app and are paired with a customer who is looking for a ride nearby. Rates are then agreed in-app and post-journey ratings can be given.
Perhaps because of Uber’s aggressiveness in expanding, however, Lyft has never been made available in the UK or Europe which means we’ll never get the joy of riding around in a car with a giant moustache taped to the front.
Snapcash is part of the Snapchat app—but only in the US. The service works via Square, a payments company run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, that lets the user send money to other contacts within their Snapchat simply by writing a dollar sign, the amount, and hitting a green button.
Sending money is, in the UK at least, an annoying process—especially as companies like Venmo are not available—and any service that may have made that easy would be appreciated. But, like Venmo, Snapcash is constrained by regulatory rulings meaning it may never arrive.
Hulu is sort of like Netflix but with a much larger focus on TV shows over feature-length films. (There are, of course, films available on the service.)
Due to the same rights issues that plague Netflix over in Europe, Hulu cannot show a lot of content here which means it has never expanded outside of the US.
It can be accessed via a VPN, but it would be nice if the shows were made available in the UK. Perhaps sometime in the future, but probably not.