Fast food gets faster with mobile ordering apps

Students can now order food without saying a word through Taco Bell's free mobile app. Taco Bell's new app is part of the growing restaurant trend for mobile ordering. (Elliott Miller)
Students can now order food without saying a word through Taco Bell’s free mobile app. Taco Bell’s new app is part of the growing restaurant trend for mobile ordering. (Elliott Miller)

Smartphones might be the new solution when the craving for a Doritos Locos Taco strikes.

Taco Bell released a new mobile app Oct. 28 allowing customers nationwide to order and pay with a few quick swipes before ever arriving at the restaurant. Taco Bell spent two years developing the app, according to a news release from the company.

“Decades ago, your car keys were the ticket to convenience at the drive-thru. Today as food culture changes and generations grow up with smartphones, our customers seek restaurant experiences that fit their lifestyle,” said Taco Bell’s president, Brion Niccol, in the release. “We believe mobile ordering and payment is the biggest innovation since the drive-thru.”

The concept of ordering food through an app is not new. Several food chains, such as Chipotle, Starbucks and Five Guys, already utilize mobile ordering apps to increase customer satisfaction and convenience.

However, Taco Bell’s new app offers some unique elements. One of these is the “Rotate to Reorder” feature that saves previous orders and allows customers to reorder favorites with a twist of the wrist. The restaurant is also the first to launch a mobile ordering and payment app nationwide, allowing options for both in-store and drive-thru pick-ups.

Taco Bell’s app is available for free download on the App Store and Google Play. BYU students cannot currently use the app at the CougarEat, but mobile ordering is available at other local Taco Bells.

Richard Hughes, assistant manager at the Taco Bell on Freedom Boulevard, said there have been problems since the app’s release, such as customers going to the wrong location to pick up their order.

“It could be a good thing, but I feel there are some glitches to knock out,” Hughes said.

Mobile ordering apps are gaining popularity for their customer convenience despite technical difficulties. They offer benefits such as skipping restaurant lines and completely personalizing meals without the anxiety to order quickly.

“I’ll definitely download more apps as they become available,” said Benjamin Ballard, a senior who uses the Domino’s mobile app frequently. “I’m by my phone a lot more than I’m by my computer.”

BYU students can expect to see more fast food apps as more restaurants develop an appetite for mobile ordering. Both McDonald’s and Subway are currently testing their own ordering and payment apps in selected locations.

“Restaurant apps are nice to have in hand,” Ballard said. “You just hit a couple buttons, and it’s done. It’s fast, easy and straightforward. And you don’t have to talk to people.”

Maybe that’s the whole point. Ordering an XXL Grilled Stuft Burrito topped with nacho cheese sauce is guilt-inducing enough without saying it out loud.

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