News apps provide services for… well, everything

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Thanks to a few innovative app designers, life for students at SMU keeps getting easier. Food delivered from any restaurant? There’s an app for that. On-demand transportation service? There’s an app for that, too.

With a few taps on a touchscreen, students can have a driver pick them up in minutes. They can have any food they want delivered to their dorm. They can find and reserve parking spots, hire a beautician, a massage therapist, or a handyman. They can even have condoms delivered to their doorstep.

Uber is a ride-share company praised for its instant service, cleanliness, professional drivers and student-budget friendly fares.

“Going out has been much more stress free,” said first-year William Clark, a frequent Uber customer of these apps.

Uber has become a common name in the SMU lexicon. By simply downloading the app, inputting the payment information, and geotagging the pickup location, users can have a driver pick them up in minutes.

Uber first launched in San Fransicso in 2010 and arrived in Dallas in 2012. It is currently valued as high as $40 billion, according to an article on vox.com. Junior Elliott Bouillion uses Uber multiple times a week.

“Any time I go to Uptown or off-campus with friends, it’s always a reliable and convenient service to use,” Bouillion said.

But despite the better prices and almost immediate pick-up time, the app is far from perfect. Some users, such as junior Emily Provost, find the Uber geotag to “be a little off.”

“The car is always a few houses or blocks away than where I actually am,” Provost said.

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This screenshot, taken from the Uber app on the SMU campus, shows the geotagged location and the nearby drivers. Photo credit: Mattie Lippe

And not all Uber drivers are reliable, says senior Jody Barnhardt.

“I once got in a wreck in an Uber, and the driver made us get out and walk the rest of the way to our destination, which was like, five blocks,” Barnhardt said.

When junior Katie Lomeo had an unsatisfactory driver, she e-mailed Uber and received a free ride.

The clean, leather-seated cars, complimentary water bottles, and tuxedoed drivers are staples of Uber’s higher-priced Black Car services, but some students don’t mind paying for those luxuries. Uber prices range from X for its standard cars, to as much as Y for the Black Car service.

But what about students who prefer to drive their own vehicles to get to where they’re going? For anyone who has braved the Central Market on Lovers’ Lane on a Sunday afternoon, only to become apocalyptic with rage at how such a large parking lot could be completely full, there’s an app for that, too.

It’s called ParkMe, and by simply opening the app or the website, the software will inform users where to find parking in areas with limited availability. The app allows users to reserve a spot, and sends push notifications when park-by-the-hour times are about to expire.

If you’re ready to give up driving completely and just want to stay in for the night, well, there’s an app for that too. Zac Maurais, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Favor, is helping make life easier for Dallas and Houston residents by expanding their food delivery options to include any restaurant the consumer desires through his app.

“Let’s face it, we’re busy and sometimes don’t want to wait in line at the restaurant or fight for parking down town,” said Maurais in an e-mail interview. He and co-founder Ben Doherty delivered pizza together in high school when they first considered the profitability of a food delivery service offering more than pizza and Chinese cuisine.

Maurais wanted more than just food variability—he wanted a job offering with both a flexible schedule and a sufficient income.

“I really wish something had existed like Favor. We built the job we would have wanted,” he said.

After placing an order, Favor users can communicate one-on-one with the “Runners,” or personal delivery assistants via text messages and phone calls.

“We’ve engineered the tools to optimize the delivery process. Runners receive directions and details about the orders and can communicate directly with customers,” Maurais said.

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“Favor Runners work as your personal assistant,” said Maurais. “They each have their own ways of building a relationship in a short amount of time.” (Courtesy of Favor)

What if you order Favor delivery from a restaurant, only to find yourself hunched in the bathroom, incapable of lifting your green face out of the trashcan long enough to drive to the doctor and sit in the waiting room? Gasp! There’s an app for that, as well. By downloading Doctors on Demand, students anywhere can video chat with a physician and obtain a diagnosis. If the physician proves to be a hunky Casanova who asks you on a date, Glamsquad can send on-demand hair and makeup stylists to help you primp.

Although they have not yet arrived in Dallas, various start-up companies have begun venturing into new arenas of customer needs in other cities. For example, in San Francisco, Washio delivers laundry and dry cleaning to the customer’s door. New Yorkers and San Franciscans have begun relying on Wunwun, an app that can deliver anything for free. Zeel offers on-demand, at-home massage therapists; Handy allows users to book a professional cleaning or expert handyman service. Glamsquad Durex recently launched the SOS Condoms app, which spares users the embarrassment of standing beside a professor at the CVS cash register by delivering condoms to the customer in minutes.

Pretty soon, there’ll be an app for just about everything.

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