There’s an app for that! We’re now well into an era of mini-apps — created for smartphones, adopted by Windows 8, and now rapidly making their way onto entertainment systems and other digital devices.
In a preview of things to come, a Pizza Hut app lets you order your favorite pie right from your Xbox 360 gaming/entertainment system.
There might not be a better example of how our shopping has evolved in a digital world than the simple act of ordering pizza. Once upon a time, we dialed up the local pizzeria using our house phone (remember land lines?). Today we dial our favorite pizza delivery directly from our cellphone favorites list — right after we consult the menu in our browser.
Now Pizza Hut has taken the ordering process to the next level — an app you download and run on Microsoft’s Xbox 360 system. What could be better after a few hours of gaming or movie watching than to jump over to a simple app, place our order, and get up only when the doorbell rings? This Pizza Hut app might be the first of its kind — it’s also available for smartphones and tablets — but other retailers will soon have dedicated shopping apps of their own. Here’s how Pizza Hut’s works. (But before reading on, I suggest ordering the pizza and beer of your choice; you might get hungry.)
Downloading apps — no keyboard needed
For those unfamiliar with the device, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console attaches to your TV and lets you play games, watch movies, play music, and surf the Web. If you add the Kinect option, you can do all those things with voice commands or gestures. For example, instead of downloading the Pizza Hut app by pecking at a physical or virtual keyboard, you simply say (commandingly): “Xbox. Bing. Pizza Hut.” The Xbox opens a Bing search on an Xbox version of Internet Explorer and then displays the results, as shown in Figure 1. If you want to use gestures instead of your voice to navigate the app, first wave side to side so the Kinect recognizes your motions, and then place and hold your hand (which is represented by a small hand icon on the screen) over the option you want to select.
You start the download process by saying: “Xbox. Pizza Hut.”
Various apps appear on the screen. If you’re using voice commands, you’ll also see labels on each app — for example: Item 1, Item 2, Item 3 — that you can use to tell Xbox 360 which app you want to select. After choosing an app, you select either Play now or Download the app. I downloaded the Pizza Hut app and then chose Pin to Start for quick access. (Pizza is a favorite meal in my family.)