Food and Drink
Come on, you have a line, and if you don’t, the person behind you likely wishes you did.
As an avid Starbucks coffee drinker, and supreme embracer of the company’s mobile features, I was in position to review Starbuck’s new mobile app last week given its launch on March 19, but the NCAA games lured me away.
Should you get it? The perks associated with the Starbucks Rewards program, bevy of promotions and the convenience this app brings to my everyday routine, place it in my top 5 most used apps.
Recently Starbucks redesigned its mobile app, serving up digital tipping and shake to pay options. However the primary function of the app remains, the ability to pay using your mobile device, though only at participating Starbucks locations. I’ve been caught off guard at a Target store or two, which is a bummer given the app’s scan feature earns users free food and drink through the Starbucks Rewards program.
In addition to still being able to track these rewards, check balances, reload your card and even consolidate all those stocking-stuffer gift cards into one place, the new app now allows you to thank your baristas without having to scavenger hunt through your car console or pat down your back pockets.
The digital tipping feature is the biggest addition to the new Starbucks app. After paying you can select $.50, $1.00 or $2.00. If you forget, and now you’re on the train heading to work, you have up to two hours before the transaction closes out. Though I wonder if this window will become a security concern?
The only other negative I have to report is, even while the new Starbucks app still connects to Passbook, has the ability to email gift cards and notifies me of the free iTunes music download each week, the actual “content” on this app has been removed.
In a major effort to streamline this edition the entire menu is no longer. No more descriptions or favorites lists, not even a single nutrition fact.
Oh well. I bet the marketers at Starbucks have calculated that the customers religiously using the app already have their line down.
If the changes to the Starbucks app aren’t your cup of tea, New England favorite Dunkin’ Donuts of course has a mobile app. Similar to the Starbucks’ Rewards Plan, the app can be used with the DD Perks plan, which allows customers to earn points for every dollar spent.
Or if you like to brew at home, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has an app called K-Cup Finder, used to find hundreds of K-Cups including Tully’s and Barista Prima. Plus, when you share reviews with other K-Cup Finder users, you’ll receive promotions and discounts.
By Daniel B. Kline
Having a useful website does not always translate into having a useful app. Take countless travel apps that perform poorly when compared to their online versions. So just because OpenTable has an easy-to-use, especially useful website does not mean that would carry over to the app.
In this case, however, those fears were unfounded as the OpenTable folks have delivered a perfect, simple, and elegant app. Like its online parent, the OpenTable app lets you make restaurant reservations. And while the website can sometimes feel cluttered and a little hard to navigate, the app offers the bare minimum. There are no bells and whistles; but in this case, you don't need them.
The OpenTable app makes it incredibly easy to use your phone to make a restaurant reservation – be it for tonight in Boston, or six months down the road in San Francisco. After registering (or logging in with an existing account), you simply pick a location, a date, and time. Once you enter that data, a list of available times at various eateries come up and finishing the reservation is just a couple of clicks away.
There's nothing fancy about this app. It doesn't do much to help you decide between the restaurants (though you can see menus and read reviews from other OpenTable customers). You can also get directions by accessing the Maps app from the OpenTable app, but none of that is the point. This is an app that lets you make a reservation in a few simple clicks and it does that fabulously well.
OpenTable also has a rewards system tied into your account where you get points for every reservation you make and keep. Those points can be traded in for gift cards good at any OpenTable restaurant. Since the app offers a useful service without offering a kickback, the rewards system is simply icing on an already delicious cake.
By Rachel Raczka
By: Conde Nast Digital
Platforms: Tested on iPhone, available for iPad, Android, Nook Color, Windows Phone, and Kindle Fire
Should you get it?: Yes.
Let me preface this review by saying: I cook a lot. And I bake more than I cook. So I spent a fair amount of time using this app. But don't let that scare you away; I recommend the app for the experienced cook as well as the kitchen novice.
Touted as a portable version of the popular website that proclaims it's "for people who love to eat," the Epicurious app features the same seemingly endless supply of recipes sourced from the Conde Nast treasure trove of the likes of Bon Appetit, Self, and Gourmet magazines.FULL ENTRY
By Swati G. Sharma
It's Friday night. As usual, I have plans with a group of friends, and again, as usual, no one can decide where to go.
But no worries - it's the Matchbook app to the rescue!
I open the application on my iPhone, and voila! A list of restaurants that I jotted down - either recommended to me by a friend or a spot I walked past at some point - appears on my screen.
The Matchbook app provides a simple service: It keeps track of restaurants, bars, or cafes you wish to explore at a later date.FULL ENTRY
By Joe Allen-Black
Reviewing: Hello Vino
By: Hello Vino
Available for: iPhone and Android
Should you get it? Yes, if you don't know where to begin in picking out wines.
Pairing food and wine is an art that I wish I were good at on my own. Sure, I can do the basics of making sure to pair my meat with something red, and fruit with whites. But anything more advanced (like exactly WHICH red to pair) is not my specialty.
Now, thanks to the app Hello Vino, it doesn't have to be.FULL ENTRY
By Rachel Raczka
Reviewing: Martha Stewart Cocktails
By: Callaway Digital Arts
Available on: iPad, iPhone
Should you get it? Absolutely. And then invite me over for drinks.
The desire to play hostess kicked in when I hit my early 20s. Sterling silver serving trays, gilded rim cocktail tumblers, impractical but aesthetically adorable paper straws in every color of the rainbow ... I felt well-equipped to hand out the swizzle sticks and call in the troops. Unfortunately, my specialty - gin and tonic with extra limes - was not exactly the height of cocktail sophistication.
So I turned to my muse in most situations like this one: Martha. (Martha, Martha, Martha.)FULL ENTRY
By Joe Allen-Black
Company: Untappd LLC
Platforms: Apple, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre. Also a website
Should you get it? If you like beer and want to explore new ones -- definitely. If you drink the same thing all the time, it'll be dull.
I'm terrible at remembering what beers I like. I'll remember flavor and color (maybe a logo if I'm lucky), but an actual name? Well, that gets lost in my brain somewhere around calculus and all the state capitals in alphabetical order.
So when my brother introduced me to Untappd, I saw a chance to make my phone remember beer for me. It was Foursquare for beer drinking, which, in my mind, is taking two awesome things and combining them in the best kind of way.FULL ENTRY