Starbucks voice recognition ‘barista’ beta starts on iPhone, prior to wide summer rollout

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By Malcolm Owen

Monday, January 30, 2017, 09:04 am PT (12:04 pm ET)

Starbucks is allowing its customers to request drinks by voice using its iOS app, with the My Starbucks Barista digital assistant able to verbally accept coffee orders and confirm payment, before dispatching the order to the nearest store.


Said to be using “groundbreaking Artificial Intelligence,” the virtual barista can accept commands both verbally and in text, using a messaging app-style interface. Multiple items can be requested in the order at the same time, with individual items displayed with prices and a final order total.

The barista will ask follow-up questions if parts of the order need to be clarified, such as the size of a drink. More complex orders can be made in a single statement, with a demonstration showing the app accepting an order for a “Double upside down macchiato half decaf with room and a splash of cream, in a grande cup” successfully.

Starbucks previously announced it was working on a virtual barista for the iOS app during an investor day last month. Initially released in a beta test to one thousand customers across the United States, the digital assistant is expected to roll out on the iOS version of the app to all customers by the summer, with the Android app receiving it later in 2017

The iOS app is not the only way to verbally order from Starbucks from a device. The coffee chain has also announced Amazon’s Alexa has support for reordering a customer’s “usual” Starbucks order, allowing the Echo to be used for a quick order before the user leaves the house to collect it.

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