McDonald’s mobile apps kicking into high gear

Patrons will finally be able to order ahead on their phones, starting next year.

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McDonald’s Mobile Apps

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A lot of people can’t get enough of Big Mac hamburgers, but it looks like McDonald’s itself is developing an addiction – to apps.

The chain is finally adding order-ahead mobile capability next year, according to Business Insider. Customers in the United States, Canada, U.K., Australia and France will be able to look at the menu, order and pay on their phones, then pick up their food at the nearest restaurant.

By 2018, the feature will be available at 20,000 to 25,000 restaurants worldwide, according to a McDonald’s spokesperson.

The Golden Arches is somewhat behind in offering order-ahead, with other fast-food chains including Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A and Starbucks seeing big success from their respective efforts.

Robert Carter, executive director of the food service business at analysis firm NPD Group Canada, said such apps were the way of the world when I spoke with him earlier this year.

“People who don’t embrace this technology and make this available to customers, particularly over the next 24 to 36 months, are going to be at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.

Ordering ahead isn’t the only new mobile app McDonald’s is serving up. The company has also introduced the McRib Finder app, which does exactly what you’d think – it locates the nearest restaurant serving the McRib sandwich, which is back again for a limited time.

It’s an iMessage app, which means only iPhone and iPad owners can use it, and it’s U.S.-only. But given the McRib’s cult status, that probably won’t stop many Canadians from hopping the border.

Not to be outdone, McDonald’s is also continuing to tinker with its foods.

The company is testing a Sriracha Big Mac in 126 restaurants in Columbus, Ohio, as well as a Nutella burger – although you’ll have to travel all the way to Italy for it.

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