Does ordering coffee from your smartphone signal the end of personal interaction?

Summary:Starbucks is a leader in mobile payments and rewards, but I think they are going too far with plans to take the order phase from your face to your hand. Mobile payments are coming, but do we really need them for everything?

Does ordering coffee from your smartphone signal the end to personal interaction?

Yesterday, ZDNet's Larry Dignan wrote that Starbucks is updating its iPhone app to accept digital tipping. I just read over on Bloomberg that they are also planning to test the ability to preorder items from your smartphone.

While I am obviously a huge fan of smartphones and use them extensively every day, I am a bit old-fashioned too and do not like seeing this trend towards less and less personal interaction.

Ordering meals in advance of your arrival or for delivery, such as from Taco Bell or Domino's, make sense to me for busy families and those who want accurate orders. I don't visit enough fast food places regularly to get to know the workers and they get to know me.

However, I find my visits to the coffee shop to be rather enjoyable experiences where I talk to the baristas and get to know them over time. They learn my favorites, write my name on my cup without me having to say it, tell my about the specials, and interact with me as a human being.

If I order my coffee in advance on my phone, hold my phone up to pay, and then say goodbye then that experience changes and I can see us eventually moving to a world where people no longer talk to each other face-to-face. That is a sad world to me and I plan to skip this preorder functionality when it rolls out to Seattle shops.

Topics: Mobility, iPhone, Smartphones


Matthew Miller started using mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host, with ZDNet's Kevin Tofel, of the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned more than 2... Full Bio

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