Last November Google purchased a Canadian start-up named BufferBox, which operated a service in Toronto much like Amazon lockers, allowing users to have packages delivered to a small unit and not worry about being home when the mailman arrives. Since then, the service has remained largely untouched, but now it's expanding into San Francisco — just a week after Google launched its own same-day delivery service trial in the city. A notice on BufferBox's website says the service will be available in San Francisco "very soon," and there's no mention of how the expansion will play into Google's shopping and delivery plans.

At the time of the acquisition, Google engineer Steve Woods said "we think there’s a real exciting space beyond this amazing start with boxes" — making it clear that the company was thinking beyond storage lockers. However, with today's news of a San Francisco expansion under the BufferBox brand, it would appear that Google is exploring interest in the service — and challenging Amazon's competing option — before fully integrating it.

It isn't hard to imagine how a service like BufferBox could work alongside Google's same-day delivery service "Shopping Express." For one, users could have items delivered to the lockers if they can't be home, or others living outside the same-day service area could take advantage of such a locker during their commute, for instance. We've reached out to Google for more information on the expansion, and will update if we hear more.