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Friday, April 18, 2014 | Last updated: 1:12am

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New app allows UA students to order food from their smartphone



Thanks to a new app, students can now place food orders and pay ahead of time from their phones or online for certain campus restaurants.

The app, Tapingo, allows users to select where they want to order food from what they want to order from the menu as well as make a payment. The app also provides an estimated time when the order will be ready, according to Todd Millay, assistant director of Arizona Student Unions.

Tapingo was launched in January 2012 in Santa Clara, Calif., but only became available to UA students four days after school started, Millay said.

Tapingo is available for Cactus Grill, IQ Fresh, Sabor and Einstein Bros. Bagels at the Student Union Memorial Center, as well as at Highland Market, Bagel Talk and Core Plus. Locations are likely to expand in the future, said Millay, who added that the student union is going through a pilot and marketing phase before adding more options.

Lines to restaurants in the student union stretch almost across the main food court at lunch time, which can inconvenience students trying to grab a quick meal in-between classes. In an attempt to reduce the long lines, Millay said management at Arizona Student Unions was open to mobile solutions and looking into providing students with alternatives to waiting in line for their food. When they heard of Tapingo and saw how the app worked, management decided to move forward with it.

“We had to go with it,” Millay said. “It’s a great solution.”

Alex Smith, a math senior, said the app sounds like it could cut down the lines at on-campus restaurants and would benefit freshmen with meal plans.

“I’ve waited in a lot of lines at like, Bagel Talk,” Smith said. “It would be sweet just to pick it up.”

Students can pay for their orders using a debit card, a credit card, a PayPal account or their meal plan by programming their CatCard information into the app.

Adam Hauner, a math senior, said the app is a smart way to reduce crowdedness, but it might lead to employees feeling rushed and having to decide whether to make orders for the crowd already standing in line or to make the online orders first.

Daniel Almog, CEO of Tapingo, said getting used to online orders is a learning process for staff members on campus.

“You know, it’s a balance,” Almog said. “But the fact that lots of people use it, and they use it again and again, is a great sign that people love it, both students and administration.”

Millay said the option of online orders not only benefits the customer, but also benefits employees as they can complete orders without as much pressure. Employees can time the online orders to be done in between those made for present customers.

“The point is to increase the value of what we’re providing to our students, faculty and staff and I think this app is a component,” Millay said. “The simplicity of it, I guess, is what makes it work so well.”

-Follow Stephanie Casanova @_scasanova_


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