Big brands from Starbucks to Natwest have had iPhone applications for several years, much to the irritation of Android users. It’s only in relatively recent months that Android has begun to complete the roster, adding to forward thinkers such as British Airways newcomers including Instagram and Flipboard.
Where Starbucks is novel, however, is that it’s one of the first major Android apps that will allow loyalty card holders for the coffee chain to eliminate cash or card payments altogether. If a Starbucks card has sufficient money loaded onto it, users can simply fire up the app and hit ‘Pay Now’ to bring up a barcode that can be scanned at the till. It’s so convenient that a third of all Starbucks customers now pay via a card, either in the plastic sense or via their phones.
The experience saves around ten seconds per purchase, which makes it surprising that Starbucks has not introduced any ‘loyalty card only’ lanes.
Somewhat infuriatingly, the Android app has already been available in America for about a year, and now also includes PayPal payments – but again only in America.
It does, however, allow users to keep track of reward points, or ‘Stars’, and to find their nearest shop. That makes the app practical and simple – as an example of how technology speeds up every day life, Starbucks is yet another glimpse of the future. And with Apple already building loyalty cards into iOS, the next logical step is ordering drinks remotely and using the GPS coordinates of the phone to make sure it’s served on time and to the right person, without even having to trouble the ‘barista’ to misspell your name on a coffee cup.