Tag: mobile apps

Google Assistant now features Santa tracking

The Android mobile app and service is letting kids of all ages check on what Old Saint Nick is up to.

Christmas is creeping up fast and as Santa and his elves make last minute preparations, Google Assistant is allowing kids to check up on jolly old Saint Nick. The popular Santa Tracker has been worked into the artificial intelligence-powered digital personal assistant app. Kids of all ages can now say “Track Santa” or ask “Where is Santa” and find out the latest about Father Christmas.

At the moment, the Assistant is providing text answers to the question, though full maps are available.

For instance, when using the mobile app or desktop site instead of Google Assistant, a full map response is provided to the inquiry about Santa’s location. That said, the Assistant has a few additional lighthearted options, such as a number of different Santa-themed jokes.

Google Assistant - Santa TrackingThe majority of the responses currently shared about Santa’s location have to do with the last minute preparations he is making with his elves. For instance, one reply from the Santa Tracker indicates that he just finished checking the weather reports for Christmas Eve.

The Google Assistant app is available for mobile devices based on the Android operating system.

Typically, the Assistant helps mobile device users to be able to conduct internet searches, to look through their pictures or complete a range of other basic tasks. However, for the holiday season, Google’s Santa tracking system has been integrated into the Assistant to allow users to find out when he might be flying near to their location.

That said, the holiday features aren’t just exclusive to people who celebrate Christmas during the holiday season. Google has also worked in a cute option meant for Jewish kids who are getting ready to celebrate Hanukkah, too. For instance, if you ask the Assistant to “spin the dreidel,” it provides a digital simulation of the spinning four-sided top. This can allow kids to play regardless of whether they happen to have an actual dreidel handy.

For mobile device users who have gadgets based on an operating system other than Android, the features Android users are enjoying with Google Assistant are still available. Google’s full Santa-tracking website is available for all smartphones, tablets and laptop/desktop users to be able to keep up with the very latest with the Jolly Old Elf.

Starbucks QR code payments make their way to China

The coffee chain giant will now be accepting WeChat smartphone transactions to pay for purchases.

The Starbucks QR code based payments are now being accepted in Chinese locations. The coffee chain announced that WeChat users will now be able to pay for their food and beverage purchases with the mobile app’s Weixin Pay.

The initial introduction of the QR codes will include around 2,500 of the company’s Chinese cafes.

To use the Starbucks QR code, customers must simply scan the code at the checkout counter. This is completed through Weixin Pay. The mobile payments technology makes it possible to carry out the entire transaction over the smartphone.

Starbucks QR Code - Starbucks CoffeeCustomers will be using mobile payments at Starbucks as a result of a new agreement between the café and Tencent Holidings Ltd. This makes the coffee chain only the latest fast food company to offer Chinese consumers a mobile wallet payment option.

The Starbucks QR code has already proven to be very popular in other countries including the United States.

In China, mobile payments are becoming increasingly commonplace. Disney, KFC and Uniqlo already offer m-payment opportunities in their Chinese locations.

At the moment, there are approximately 200 million Chinese consumers using Weixin Pay and Alipay – Weixin’s rival owned by Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd. Consumers have embraced the technology due to the checkout speed it offers in-store.

That said, as popular as mobile payments are becoming in China, many foreign retailers are hesitant to introduce them. The main worry is regarding a customer privacy breach through the data collected during the transaction.

According to China Market Research Group managing director Shaun Rein, “Accepting mobile payment would unlock massive value for Starbucks.” He also added that “Since they couldn’t move customers through the line faster, they were losing 5 to 10 percent of business.”

The Starbucks QR code will provide precisely that opportunity. Customers can step up to the counter, order their beverage and scan the quick response code to verify and complete the transaction. This will also help to boost its strength in the competition with its top rival Costa Coffee. That company has been accepting mobile payments for more than a year.