Feed me now – There’s an app for that

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Remember the days you’d have take-out pamphlets plastered on your fridge? Those greasy old delivery booklets you’d shuffle through with your partner to decide (after much debate and a near break-up) what dinner you’d be ordering? Let’s be honest – those scraps of paper are slowly dying out (yay! #SaveTheTrees.) And in its place – multi-functional, all-encompassing food ordering apps. As a company that eats, breathes and builds products as a vocation, this gets us pretty excited. It combines two things we love – mobile apps and FOOD! Now every kind of food you can imagine is easily deliverable to your doorstep – with minimal effort involved. No getting in your car, no shouting over the phone to have your order heard, no changing out of your slippers into publicly acceptable clothing. Nothing but you, your phone, and a bit of patience.

No getting in your car, no shouting over the phone to have your order heard, no changing out of your slippers into publicly acceptable clothing. Nothing but you, your phone, and a bit of patience.

Food delivery is no new concept. For a long time we’ve been able to ring up our favourite takeaway place, place an order, and have it delivered to our home. But in our tech-based world, our expectations of this once basic service have increased. The rise of online shopping, with maximum convenience and transparency, have made consumers increasingly expect the same experience when it comes to ordering their meal (or even their groceries). Why get in your car, drive to the shops, pay for parking, struggle with change, when you can order food at the tap of a screen.

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Image courtesy of Digital Trends

Happy to tap into our increasing laziness, food delivery players are constantly adapting their role in the food delivery game. They’ve gone from providing a nifty online portal where users view and compare restaurants that deliver, to providing the actual delivery of the food. In other words, food delivery apps have stepped up to the dinner plate and have taken on the responsibility of handling all logistics. They do pretty much everything except cook it. This opens up a gastronomic world of opportunities for consumers – you can now order an A-grade T-bone steak from a five star restaurant, as well as your classic burger and chips.

No more waiting in line or getting put on hold. Just a cashless, smooth, transparent process of having your belly filled, without having to get up off the couch.

Not only do food delivery apps mean more options, they mean more transparency too. Consumers can now track how far along their order is in the stages of delivery, being notified when their order’s been received, the food is being packed, the delivery is on its way. This is something we have had first hand experience at – where we helped incorporate the “Bump Screen”, a tool for seamless communication between customer and front of house staff on the NOWNOW project. No more waiting in line or getting put on hold. Just a cashless, smooth, transparent process of having your belly filled, without having to get up off the couch.

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What does this mean for businesses, particularly traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants? Will they be left in the dust, while tech-savy startups take over the world? We think quite the opposite. Afterall, food delivery apps need to get the food from somewhere, right?. Restaurants have the opportunity to jump on board and tap into the increasing food delivery demand by partnering with food delivery apps. And without this relationship, food deliveries will have nothing delicious to deliver. Take Uber Eats, one of the leading players in mobile food delivery apps. Their entire business is based on established restaurants preparing food for their drivers to deliver. Restaurants are now able to reach even more customers, without ever having to have any actual interaction with the customer. The only human interaction in this equation is having to open your door for a driver. Or maybe not…

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Image courtesy of Uber

Opening your door to an Uber driver? So 2015. The future sees a variety of options to receive your meal. How about having a parkour specialist deliver your pepperoni pizza? Grubhub, the leading mobile food player in the United States recently launched Delivery X: Delivery Without Limits (DX), which features having your food delivered by a highly skilled extreme sport athlete. Customers are able to watch the journey their food is taking via live-streamed cameras mounted on the athlete’s helmets. The delivery athletes are prompted with cutting-edge navigation technology – BMX riders are notified of the nearest railings and ledges, skateboarders get push-by-push directions, and parkour jumpers receive instant updates on the vertical/horizontal distances between obstacles. We think that’s pretty gnarly!

Not futuristic enough for you? Why not have your food brought to you by R2-D2’s cousin. Estonian company Starship Technologies have come out with an autonomous food-delivering robot, ready to zip it’s way through the city to deliver your lunch. The robots are guided by nine cameras and numerous sensors to detect obstacles while travelling on sidewalks at an average speed of 6.4kmh. Once the bot reaches your location, you can unlock the insulated area that’s been keeping your food hot (or cold) with a smartphone app. With your meal in your hands, the bot’s lid automatically locks back into place and is on its next journey. Just like that.

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Whether you want your chicken phad thai delivered by robot or human, it’s pretty clear that food delivery apps and it’s systems have taken evolved at a startling rate over the past few years. As app developers and designers, at TouchFoundry we couldn’t be more excited to see what’s to come. We’ve already had the opportunity to be part of some pretty cool food delivery apps, and we’re sure there will be plenty more to come #WatchThisSpace.

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