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Taco Bell to unveil cutting-edge mobile ordering system, and other news for Feb. 14, 2014

Taco Bell is getting ready to launch a cutting-edge mobile-ordering system for the iPhone later this year, reports Nation's Restaurant News. The company already has an existing iOS app, but the new one, which has been in development for more than two years, will allow hungry customers to order and pay for food directly from their iPhone.

The app opens first to the menu, but then immediately allows guests to find their closest Taco Bell, so pricing specific to that location appears, as well as hours and directions.

Customers can customize menu selections, and the app offers "smart upsell" opportunities, suggesting a drink or dessert, for example, if the user hasn't ordered one. Users can save their favorite orders, customized to their liking, for next time.

Guests can load Taco Bell gift cards or use their credit cards to pay. The order goes directly to the restaurant's POS system and appears on the kitchen display system specifically as a mobile order.

To ensure that the food is prepared hot when the guest arrives, the system uses a GPS locator to recognize when the person placing the order is near, giving the kitchen a signal to fire the order.

The guest then has the option of in-store pick up or using the drive thru - but they don't have to make that decision until they arrive at the restaurant. If the drive thru line is long, for example, they can tap "in-store" pickup and go inside. Jenkins said a separate pick up window for mobile orders will be available to allow those guests to avoid the line.

The company believes its mobile ordering system will be as significant as the drive thru. Taco Bell has not announced a global rollout date, but many customers should be able to try it by the end of the year.

In other news:

  • Apple has distributed another US$2.6 billion worth of dividends to shareholders of record yesterday. Shareholders received $3.05 for every AAPL share they owned. The next dividends distribution will be in May.
  • Rovio has announced Angry Birds Stella, which will feature female lead characters.
  • Four US senators have introduced The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, a bill which would require smartphone manufacturers to build a "kill switch" into each and every phone. The kill switch would allow a user to wipe the stolen phone remotely and make it completely inoperable, rendering it all but worthless to a thief.

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