Starbucks AI Virtual Assistant Allows In-App Voice Ordering, Amazon Alexa Integration Incoming

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Starbucks has always been at the forefront of high-tech mobile integration with its ordering system and other aspects of its retail stores. The coffee chain was quick to adopt wireless payments, and has even opened its store up to newfangled mobile crazes like Pokémon Go. Now, the company is opening up its app to allow ordering your favorite drinks or food items via voice or messaging.

Starbucks has enabled the functionality in an iOS beta of its mobile app, allowing you to simply speak your order and even make super-fancy customizations thanks to the use of artificial intelligence (AI). The built-in AI will process your payment information and give you an ETA of when your order will be available for pickup at your closest Starbucks location. If you prefer not to speak your order, you can use the in-app messaging to place an order, chatbot-style.

The iOS beta will initially be available to only 1,000 testers nationwide, but will eventually rollout to all customers this summer. Android users will gain the functionality at a later date.

But Starbucks’ voice integration doesn’t stop there. Like many companies, Starbucks will also offer Alexa integration which will work with your Amazon Echo, Amazon Echo Dot and other Alexa-based hardware. The Starbucks Reorder Skill takes advantage of the company’s Mobile Order & Pay infrastructure, and allows you to quickly order your favorite items by voice. You’ll be able to simply say, “Alexa, order my Starbucks,” and your items will be prepared for you.

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“The 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,” said Starbucks CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger. “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.”

Starbucks says that 27 percent of its transactions takes place via mobile device.