Starbucks is adding some new features to its mobile apps that will surely make it easier to order coffee and food products from its many locations ahead of time. Not only is the company rolling out the ability to order via voice command, you’ll also be able to save your favorite drinks.
Now, first things first: Starbucks is only bringing its new voice ordering feature to only a select amount iOS users starting today, though the company says the feature will roll out to Android device sometime later this year. According to the company, the voice ordering feature should work just as if a person walked into a Starbucks location and ordered his or her coffee in front of their barista. In this case, the virtual barista is a chatbot, who will let users make modifications to their order, and also have their coffee ready to pick up at their preferred brick-and-mortar location.
There’s also a new skill available for the Amazon Alexa assistant platform that performs the same basic function for the company’s Echo lineup of speakers.
The Alexa skill, however, is a bit more limited in scope. If you happen to own an Echo speaker, and have a “usual” order of Starbucks coffee and food that you get often, you can now say, “Alexa, order my Starbucks” to have that order sent to your preferred retail location for pickup. It doesn’t sound like you will be able to chat with Alexa to make modifications to that order on the fly like you will be able to do with the iOS and Android barista chatbot.
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The new feature from Starbucks is just the latest in the AI trend we have been seeing in smartphones for the past few years. Companies are trying to make it easier to use mobile devices without the need to type or go through the usual user interface. It would appear that 2017 will indeed be a landmark year for digital assistants in phones, as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant all try to get a piece of that market.
While Android Starbucks users will have to wait a while for voice commands, the app is rolling out an update today that will finally allow hardcore users to save their favorite coffee creations in the app’s new Favorites selection. So if you really want a daily dose of your Grande Caramel Macchiato with nonfat milk, you can set that up in the app, put it in your Favorites selection and then quickly tap on it the next time you want to pick it up from your nearest Starbucks location without having to build up another separate order.
The app also includes a new recommendations feature. When you start building your Starbucks order, the app will offer helpful ideas for any optional drink or food selections you might want to add to it. The app update is rolling out today, though it might not hit your device for a few days yet.