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I'll admit it. I'm addicted to caffeine, in the form of coffee. I can't go through the day without having at least two cups (though sometimes it could be more) and I've felt the horrible aftermath of caffeine withdrawal. Just last week, I bemoaned my inability to purchase a new bag and then when the blessed funds came in and I had the canister in the fridge and coffee at my desk, I made declarations of my love for coffee (though it may have sounded as though I was in love with coffee).
As someone who enjoys a good cup, I of course enjoy a place in which I can have a good cup of coffee. And while there are a magnitude of coffee shops and places that have coffee shops, none is more familiar than Starbucks. Now, I'm not a particular fan of Starbucks -- I find their prices to be a bit too high for just a cuppa, but this new app of theirs could change my mind and could give loyal fans who flock there reason to rejoice.
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What is Starbucks?
Starbucks began its humble life in Seattle, WA as a small coffee shop in 1971 in the Pike's Place Market. More than just a maker and server of coffee, Starbucks also offers members a variety of pastries, sandwiches, and tea from Tazo; Starbucks has also gained a prominence within corporations, by being one of the most ethical businesses (as rated by Ethisphere Magazine, five years at number one), as well as being a voice in eco-friendly contributions.
But in terms of coffee, Starbucks rules. And it isn't just the coffee and snacks that people come for; the atmosphere within a local chain, while usually busy, is comfortable with tables, chairs, bars (in some locales), and comfy arm chairs or couches. This makes it a perfect place to come in order to study, do work, or have a business meeting.
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The interface for Starbucks' app is reletively simple. Opening the app will take you to a log in screen. Note that this app is really only good if you have a Starbucks card, but even if you don't, you can still use it to find Starbucks locations around your general area. If you do have a card (or you end up getting one), you can add your card information or just log into your account if you have one. One great thing is that you can create an account with the app for Starbucks online.
When you've logged in, you'll be ready to use the features of the app.
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The bread and butter of this app are the features. Not only can you check your credit left on your Starbucks card, as well as put more money on the card (called reloading), you can also use your phone to pay.
Yes, you read that right. With this app, you can use your Android phone to pay for your purchase. Here's how it works - you stop in to your local Starbucks and get a coffee. You pull up your Starbucks app and have the cashier do a 2D scan of your card number that's stored there. On your phone, you'll see the price of your purchase and all you need to do is touch the green button to pay.
It would of course be even better if you could just select your order so you don't have to wait in the ridiculously long line, but perhaps that will be a future feature.
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The usability of this app is pretty good. It can definitely come in handy for those times when you need coffee, but have forgotten your card or worse, your wallet, then you can use this app to make that much needed coffee run purchase. And of course the ability to discover how much you have left is good, as well as being able to add more money without needing to head home to your computer.
One downside I saw was that you cannot purchase a Starbucks card from the app. This was kind of annoying, especially if you can't find your card in the first place and just decide to get another. For anyone who wants to try this without having a card, it's best to wait until you get one. Another annoyance was the fact that, while trying out the app, I decided to quickly skip the whole log in, enter card thing, to take a look at some of the other features.
And promptly I am stuck on the enter card information. Worse yet is that there is no way to get back to the main menu of the app nor the phone's home screen without hitting the home button. That was incredibly frustrating as I like to check out stuff that I've downloaded before entering my info.
On a good note, Starbucks does do what it can to make sure that if your phone is ever lost or stolen, you can log on to your account and report the loss. This prevents someone from using your account for their purchases.
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While not a die hard Starbucks lover, my recent move has put me in proximity of several and I won't lie and say that I've never gone into one. However, if I was a frequent visitor, this is the type of app that would make my day. The definite main feature is the ability to pay for your purchases with your Android phone, provided you've entered your Starbucks card information beforehand.
A disappointment for me is the unavailability to purchase Starbucks cards from the app and the fact that it seems to refuse to let me get further than the map locations. But, as I'm still new to the city, having a map of the locations of Starbucks is quite handy, even if for the moment it's the only feature that's appealing.
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- Starbucks Company Information, http://www.starbucks.com/about-us/company-information
- Starbucks Timeline, http://assets.starbucks.com/assets/aboutustimelinefinal13111.pdf
- Starbucks Mobile Apps, http://www.starbucks.com/coffeehouse/mobile-apps
- Image Credit: Android Market/author