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Taco Bell will start taking orders via smartphone later this year

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Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Fourthmeal is going mobile. Later this year, Taco Bell will start accepting orders via smartphone, according to trade publication Nation's Restaurant News. Rather than turn elsewhere for an existing mobile ordering solution, the fast food chain has reportedly spent more than two years perfecting its own system. "Living Más is all about doing things differently," mobile lead Jeff Jenkins told Nation's Restaurant News. "One brand will be extraordinary, while everyone else is ordinary."

Jenkins said Taco Bell's upcoming app will be "built on the moment of now," displaying various greetings based on the time of day a customer is ordering. Pricing and hours of operation are specific to your nearest Taco Bell, and you can save your favorite orders for quick access later on. Payment is accepted via Taco Bell gift cards or credit cards.

When the drive-thru isn't fast enough

Other food vendors like Chipotle have been leading the charge in mobile ordering — with heavyweights like McDonalds also experimenting — but Taco Bell is trying some unique things. First, you'll be able to choose whether to pick up your food in store or via the drive-thru. So if you show up and see a long stretch of cars, you can go inside for faster service. (A separate pick up section will be established for mobile orders, speeding up the process even further.) Taco Bell's app will also use your GPS location to determine when employees should start heating up your food. To ensure that your meal is actually hot, that won't happen until you're nearing the pickup restaurant. Obviously we're not talking about fine dining here, but it's a clever idea all the same.

The average wait time at Taco Bell typically doesn't match that of Chipotle or even Dominos for that matter, but Jenkins thinks it's still a worthwhile endeavor. "It’s really more about convenience and customization," he said. Most important of all, mobile ordering could also prove extremely lucrative. "If you can get 10 million people to download your app, you’re putting a portal to Taco Bell in 10 million pockets."