It’s no secret that our smartphones are able to make certain tasks easier for us. Web searches, event planning, social media sharing, connecting with friends and family, and listening to music are just a few of the things that our smartphones can do for us. One of the most recent additions to that list comes in the form of the inevitable, and that’s being able to make reservations, order, and pay for a meal via your smartphone before you even walk in the door of a restaurant. Sounds pretty cool, right?
Just yesterday, fast food chain Taco Bell unveiled its new mobile app for iOS and Android. This app allows you to browse their menu, order, and pay for your meal before you get there. What’s more is that by using the app you’re also entitled to certain discounts. Right now, you can purchase a Baja Blast Freeze for just $1 - as long as you use the app to make the purchase. Essentially, this app’s main purpose is to make ordering easier for you. No more haphazardly shouting out something you didn’t actually want in the drive-thru speaker simply because a line was forming behind you and social anxiety set in - now you can plan ahead. Of course, just because you decided to order ahead of time doesn’t mean everybody else did, so if somebody ahead of you didn’t you still have to wait in line. But at least you punched in your own order so that’s a 50% less chance of somebody making your order wrong, so you’ve got that going for you.
The Taco Bell app joins other fast food restaurants who have also released apps that perform similar functions, such as Wendy’s, Domino’s, Pizza Hut, and pretty much any major pizza chain, really. (Taco Bell’s app is the only one that allows orders for both dine-in and drive-thru, however).
Fast food isn’t the only industry that’s getting in on using smartphones to make service faster and better: Outback Steakhouse will also be releasing a mobile and online service called Click Thru Seating that will essentially eliminate wait times for those who choose to use the tool. You can also check out current wait times, which is handy if you’re considering going to Outback but aren’t sure if they’re busy or not.
Applebee’s is another chain restaurant that’s taking advantage of smartphone technology by helping with orders.
With two new additions to the app store from major restaurants (both fast food and not), with mostly positive feedback, I can’t imagine this train stopping here. It’s not a major breakthrough in technology by any means, and as I previously mentioned this was pretty much inevitable, but it is an incremental step in making our experience with restaurants run a little more smoothly. Now you won’t have to wait as long, or worry that somebody else messed up your order, or even facepalm yourself because you left your wallet at home because - oh yeah! - you already paid through the app. Boo-yah!
I think the only thing I worry about now is that there’s going to be those awkward isolated incidents where somebody isn’t paying attention to the road because they were too busy ordering a gordita and cheesy fiesta potatoes and inevitably cause an accident while doing so. “Don’t order and drive” could very well become the next “Don’t text and drive”, so there’s that possibility. Aside from that, though, I think it’s pretty clever that restaurants are finding ways for customers to use smartphones to make the process a little bit easier.