How Apps, Smartphones and Wearables are going to Change the McDonalds Experience

March 17, 2015
App Development,Smart Watch Apps,Tech News

The Evolution of Fast Food: How Apps, Smartphones and Wearables are going to Change the McDonalds Experience

Last year, McDonalds employed their first ever Digital Chief Officer, Atif Rafiq, to change and evolve McDonalds restaurants across the globe by 2020. This year, for the first time ever, McDonalds attended SXSW festival in Texas, following a two-year run of below-par sales figures, to outline their new vision.

Atif began by describing how kiosks, smartphones and wearables will change the way people order and eat at McDonalds restaurants. The hardware for the kiosks is currently in development, as is an app, which will track customers’ ID and save their order history.

Although this sounds like another slightly welcomed privacy invasion using technology, Atif claims that it isn’t; he claims that it will create “an environment where it’s really built around you, rather than the operations of a restaurant”. It’s all about us, thank goodness for that – now our minds can rest easy!

Just now, ordering at McDonalds, or indeed any fast food restaurant, is pretty straight forward; you walk in, wait in a queue, order your food and wait at the counter for it to be served to you either on a tray or in a paper bag; depending on wither you have opted to “sit-in” or “take-away”.



How can this time-tested, easy-to-comprehend method possibly be improved by technology?

The answer, according to Atif, is by overcomplicating it completely by adding a multitude of different methods and avenues to burger access.


As many of you may have noticed, a great number of McDonalds restaurants across the globe already have electronic “order kiosks”, which allow you to bypass the inconvenience of queuing for counter service by placing your order electronically; before waiting in a queue to collect your food at the counter. Amazing, isn’t it?

In the McDonalds of the future, every restaurant across the world will have kiosks similar to those that are in use in some stores now, however they are currently being redeveloped with new hardware and software by the company’s digital global team.


The new electronic kiosks will allow the customer to tap it with their phone and sync their account via the app. Now, the screen won’t merely display the menu; it will also show the customer’s order history and provide recommendations based upon that – sort of like Amazon, only with non-biodegradable burgers.

Customers who are of the “sit-in” disposition will be able to place their order using the app before they even arrive at the restaurant. Upon arrival the customer merely takes a seat at a table of their choosing and an attentive member of staff then brings over the food to them; the member of staff can track the customer’s table via the phone in their pocket.

Atif has called this “the perfect union of humanity and technology” adding that it would be “wrong to take humans out of the loop”. So all of those out there who are worried about the rise of the machines being on the imminent the horizon can rest easy; the humans are still trusted to carry your tray.

Watch the “Happy Table” promo video HERE.

Once the customer has finally finished a healthy helping of cow-trimmings and laminated cheese, the fun doesn’t stop; the app will then pop-up with a range of deserts and after-dinner treats that can be delivered directly to your table with just a single tap.

You could be forgiven for thinking that this is just another clever way for a multinational, capitalist company to squeeze-out every last drop of blood from their ever-loyal customers – but perhaps you shouldn’t be so cynical. Atif claims that this function within the new app is merely to provide McDonalds with the intelligence to know which stage the customer is at in their “journey”. They care about your needs that much.

You might think that referring to the consumption of a McDonalds meal as a “journey” is a ridiculous piece of sensationalist marketing, but it’s not. Go back and read up to this point again and note how the actual eating of the burger is only briefly mentioned in the midst of this whole song and dance; this truly is one hell-of-a fucking journey!

mcds app

You may also have noted that all of the above can be done using just a smartphone and the app, so where do wearables actually fit into all of this?

When asked, Atif said that it wouldn’t be possible to input your credit card details on a wearable like you can with a smartphone, however, he has claimed, “you could wave!”

That’s right, he really did say, “wave”. In “the perfect union of humanity and technology”, an Apple Watch is set to replace a simple limb movement. Well I for one can’t wait.

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