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Starbucks' new virtual assistant takes coffee orders via voice

Starbucks has updated their app to include a virtual assistant. Users can now use the app to place orders using either voice commands or a chat interface. The app will also integrate with Alexa.

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Ordering coffee just became a whole lot easier.

Starbucks has updated their mobile app to includes a feature that allows users to place orders through voice commands or a chat interface. The software, dubbed “My Starbucks Barista,” is able to intelligently parse the user’s vocal instructions into a drink or food order. Customers can even modify drinks on the app’s menu. Given the myriad of customization options at Starbucks, this is a rather impressive feat.

The app can also take orders through a more traditional chat interface. Before placing the order, the app will confirm what the customer asked for, the location they’d like to pick it up from, and even process payment.

Coffee aficionados can also use Amazon’s Echo to place an order. If a customer has already set up a preferred drink and location on the Starbucks mobile app, they can ask Alexa to “order my Starbucks.” Alexa will then integrate with the mobile app and place the order.

The update is part of Starbucks’ plan to further push their mobile retail systems. Gerri Martin-Flickinger, CTO of Starbucks, said:

“Starbucks experience is built on the personal connection between our barista and customer, so everything we do in our digital ecosystem must reflect that sensibility. Our team is focused on making sure that Starbucks voice ordering within our app is truly personal and equally important was finding the right partner in Amazon to test and learn from this new capability. These initial releases are easy to use providing a direct benefit to customers within their daily routine and we are confident that this is the right next step in creating convenient moments to complement our more immersive formats. We expect to learn a lot from these experiences and to evolve them over time.”

The feature is currently in Beta and available to only 1,000 users. My Starbucks Barista will continue to roll out to iOS devices through summer of this year and will be made available on Android after that.

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Sam Medley, 2017-01-30 (Update: 2017-01-30)
Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Review Editor - @samuel_medley
I've been a "tech-head" my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a Systems Analyst for my local school district. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news articles and notebook reviews. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not hunched over an electronic device or writing code for a new database, I'm either outside with my family, playing a decade-old video game, or sitting behind a drum set.