Names are a curious thing. Why do people call things as they are? Why is a pan a pan and not a sieve? Names of things are steeped in the history of language and many can be, I am reliably informed, traced back to a time when language was the new kid on the block. 

Of course, language evolves and with that the history, or etymology, of names becomes clouded and complex. Some of the more recent, such as car, are easier to trace. Car is short for carriage, which in turn is short for horse-drawn carriage. Similarly, auto is short for autocar, which in turn is short for automatic carriage, or a carriage that is not drawn by horses. Unless you are American, in which case auto is short for automobile, probably from the French language.

Biscuit is a French word meaning twice cooked. I will not delve into the etymology of the French word biscuit suffice to say that it is generally a hard-baked… well, you know what a biscuit is. Whether or not you dunk it into your tea or coffee is entirely your own preference.

During the summer I spotted a new “Biscuit” at my local supermarket. This one is not like any biscuit that you may have seen before. For a start, it is not baked, nor can you eat it. This is a new app for your smart device or accessed via a browser. My supermarket is encouraging me to put it onto my phone by “simply” scanning the QR code. As I was in a bit of a hurry, I did not do that but downloaded and installed from the Google Play store.

Starting it was easy and there was no registration or login required. OK, this is a free app that I can play with until my heart’s content and they do not ask me for any data? Here is where we meet the raison d’être of this new Biscuit, or at least what I see that it may be. It is to replace the paper publicity that comes to your postbox every week. Even the layout of the app is in the form of individual “magazines” or parts of them. You can open the app and browse through this week’s offers from many supermarkets and shops. All the usual advertising is there and some more.

Getting back to the data collection that all apps do. Biscuit offers you a free “sticker non pub”, presumably to put on your letter box to inform the postal worker not to put the publicity stuff into it. To get the sticker you need to give Biscuit your name, address and optionally your email address. This got me thinking about who developed this app. Was it POST Luxembourg? This would have been the obvious candidate until you think - why would they develop something to reduce their sales? Sure enough, checking the website I discovered that the app was developed by a couple of people from France. This is not earth-shattering news and really does not matter in the grand scheme of things - it is good that they are offering a valuable service.

What is the value in the service? You ask. Well, once you have the “non pub” sticker firmly stuck to your postbox, your postal worker will no longer deliver masses of paper to you every week. Thus, saving the planet approximately 40 kilograms of paper per household every year. That is the value to the planet, but what is the value to you?

The app allows you to search for offers from shops in Luxembourg. It has the possibility for you to search by category and by shop name. It is a bit more clever than just telling you about the offers. It uses the geolocation feature of your device to serve you offers from shops nearby, also displaying the distance from you to each shop. So now you have all of the up-to-date publicity from the shops in Luxembourg on your phone, meaning that they are always with you and you do not need to remember to bring paper copies with you to find those bargains.

That is it for this app and therein lies a serious limitation. You cannot use it to place any orders, not even for “click and collect”. A great feature would be if you could order from multiple stores and have one delivery to your home or workplace. As it is, this Biscuit appears to be just a replacement for the paper publicity that you get with Imail from POST.