Starbucks App Brings Caffeinated Shot to Experience
Starbucks' iPhone app is robust and useful — but in need of streamlining.
This job takes me to a ton of coffee shops. Mobile journalism means mobile offices, and for me, that means local cafes and caffeine dens.
Oftentimes, I find myself at Starbucks locations for hours on end, which is why I was excited to try out the Starbucks iPhone App.
What does it do? For starters, the mapping function allows you to not only find the Starbucks near you, but also its hours, which is handy for us suburban nighthawks. You can also buy drinks by scanning your phone, which deducts money from gift cards you've stored in there. And you can keep a log of your favorite caffeine addictions (mine: chai latte — but does that even have caffeine?)
Other features let you browse food items, gather rewards points — even apply for Starbucks jobs.
Now, it's not a perfect app. In order to charge it up with money, you must first go to a physical location, buy a plastic Starbucks Card and then load all that information into your app.
Why not just allow users to enter a credit card number?
I went to three different locations before I found one that would even let me buy a card. The first two: the small cafe inside Northwestern University's Norris Center, and the Starbucks kiosk inside an Oak Park Dominick's. No dice, until I found a storefront in River Forest.
I have to admit, were I not reviewing this app, I would have given up after the second location. But, now that I have it, I'm using it regularly. Bonus: Starbucks gives out codes each week inside their locations for free iTunes downloads. (I picked up a card for "The Monster at the End of this Book" starring Sesame Street's Grover.)
Starbucks, given its omnipresence in suburbia, could have itself a monster app. It's just not quite there yet.
Patch also has its own iPhone app, which will connect you to local news, weather, events and business listings in your town.