9.16.2014: #DinnerMode / Payments


Will Mobile Payments Finally Stick?

Are we really doing it this time? Following last week’s huge Apple event and new phone announcement, TechCrunch posted an op-ed of sorts about mobile payment tech. Basically: the addition of Apple Pay to new phones (read the post for the technical details of how it works) brings the iPhone’s mobile technology full-circle. iBeacon allows businesses to market to consumers inside their establishments. Passbook, Apple’s “mobile wallet,” stores important information and codes. Now, using our phones to securely pay for items in person is a natural next step.

As you might expect, restaurants are among the first to sign on to Apple Pay, with PaneraSubway,Starbucks and McDonalds on-board for the first wave, which makes sense. Offering a very fast, very easy, very personal way for consumers to purchase items quickly (an impulse Big Mac or whatever) is the perfect Apple Pay use case, and is, hopefully, a step in the direction of the future when it comes to ditching a heavy wallet all together. (I’m especially interested to see how this catches on in areas of the country that aren’t as tech-savvy as my San Francisco home.)


Using Yelp to Track Food Poisoning

Ughhh. Crowdsourced tools like Yelp are fantastic when used for good. But when used for less-than-good (even unintentionally), they go bad. This is and has been my main beef with Yelp, generally. Now, a group of researchers in Boston are using those user-submitted Yelp reviews to track outbreaks of food poisoning.

To be fair, they’ve matched Yelp data with current CDC data — but only regarding the type of food that caused the illness. (For example, 32 percent of Yelp complaints had to do with poultry; 33 percent of CDC reported cases were from the same.) So, I suppose one could argue that the Yelp data is legit. But on a restaurant-by-restaurant basis, claims of food poisoning can be really, really damaging. Sometimes, food poisoning takes a long time to show up. Enough time to eat several meals, actually. So it’s often challenging to pinpoint the one thing that made you sick. And just one claim of food poisoning can seriously damage a restaurant’s reputation, so you see why I’m wary of letting the public self-report these things to the internet without some sort of filter.

The research group does admit that the system could be abused, but says that a health inspector will not shut down a restaurant because of a false report (but is the damage done if its online reputation is tarnished?) Listen, if a restaurant is employing questionable health practices, the public needs to know. If someone *thinks* the shrimp made them sick last Tuesday… well, those claims are harder to prove. Tread lightly here, please.


When Awesome Companies Use Each Other’s Data

I love a good API. So I’m excited that the awesome people at ChefsFeed have released their own. Briefly: an API allows other companies to use data provided by ChefsFeed; In this case, their store of chef-created restaurant reviews. Partnerships include Foursquare, UrbanSpoon, RedBull and even (my airline of choice) Virgin America.

I am excited about this because I like ChefsFeed’s content. I like their reviews, because they come straight from food pros. And I like the fact that they’re making it really simple for all kinds of different companies to access very high-quality content. This is awesome.


Unplug for Dinner!

Yes! This is great. I just discovered the DinnerMode Challenge: an online movement aimed at getting people to stay off their phones for 15, 30, 60 minute intervals. The challenge: while eating with friends or family, set a timer on your phone for the chosen time. Then put your phone down for that amount of time and enjoy “the people you’re with and the food you’re eating.” Then, share the results using the#DinnerMode hashtag.

The initiative was just introduced today, but seems to have gained a fair amount of traction already. Give it a try!


…to the James Beard Foundation’s new mobile app, featuring recipes for classic and award-winning vegetable recipes.
Learn to create meals with step-by-step instructions and videos, plus all sorts of tips. No, this app isn’t that different from many other recipe apps, but I really appreciate the attention given to award-winningchefs and their recipes. Things like that deserve to be preserved and shared! Well done.


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