Taco Bell's Mobile App Lets You Get Your Fast-Food Fix Quickly and Sneakily

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Feb. 14 2014 12:55 PM

Taco Bell's Mobile App Lets You Get Your Fast-Food Fix Quickly and Sneakily

tacobell
Taco Bell will add mobile ordering to walk-in and drive-through.

Photo from Wikimedia.

Taco Bell can be a fast food favorite or a secret late-night obsession. Now, whether customers are looking for expanded or more discreet access, the Taco Bell mobile app will help everyone get their fix.

Though it's been in development for 2 ½ years, Tace Bell only recently conducted a beta trial and is now ready to roll the app out this year. Customers will be able to order from the app, customizing their meal however they want, and then pay from inside the app using a credit card or gift card. They can pick it up at the counter or in the drive-thru, with almost no words exchanged.

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Restaurant News reports that McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are also working on mobile apps, and another popular chain for Mexican food, Chipotle, has had its ordering app out since 2009 and is now planning to invest $10 million more in developing mobile services. But with more than 5,600 U.S. locations, Taco Bell is on a much larger scale than Chipotle, which has about 1,200. Mobile ordering has also proliferated in the pizza industry at Papa John’s, Domino’s, and Pizza Hut, which is Taco Bell's sister brand.

As smartphones saturate the U.S. market, mobile audiences have become crucial targets in any marketing campaign, even on the scale of fast food. Jeff Jenkins, Taco Bell's mobile lead, told the Los Angeles Times that, "With the popularity of millennials and smart phones, we saw this [mobile ordering] coming. ... Mobile is going to be the biggest sort of innovator, shake-up in the quick service industry since the drive-thru."

And in fact Taco Bell already has a mobile app, though people couldn't use it for ordering. It contained the restaurant's menu, news, and games. It's not clear what operating systems the app will run on, but iOS and Android seem likely. It's time to put tacos in the hands of the people.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

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