McDonald's Had the Worst Fast-Food Ordering App That We Tried, but These Were Some of the Best

In the digital age, mobile users can do just about anything from their phone screen.

We tested out five mobile apps on Apple's (AAPL) iPhone operating system to find out who makes ordering fast food the easiest.

Here you go.

Editors' pick: Originally published July 11.

Starbucks
Starbucks

Starbucks' (SBUX) app is user-friendly to set up. Just an email, some basic stats and your birthday for a "special birthday treat." But you can't earn rewards unless you put money on your in-app card.

Ordering ahead is easy - the app uses your location to find the nearest store. You see options for the whole menu, your previous and favorite orders, and featured menu items. All of the items feature nutritional and allergen information and a photo.

I added my signature - a grande iced coconut milk mocha macchiato - and the app showed me a "you may also like" section with sandwiches and sweet treats. Pretty easy.

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Shake Shack
Shake Shack

Shake Shack's (SHAK) app flashes "It's Go Time: Order Ahead, Cut the Line" as soon as you hit the home screen. Hit get started and you're directed to a page with locations near you and pickup times. At 1:42 p.m., the earliest pickup time was 2:00 p.m.

The Shake Shack menu is refreshingly simple, so it's easy to pick what sandwich, sides and add-ons you want. But there's a time ticker at the bottom that limits you to make sure your food is ready at the time you pick. The seconds ticking away might have been intimidating if ordering for a big group.

When you hit "Check Out," there's a pop-up that says Shake Shack will check your ID and credit card when you pick up your food. Once you give them the okay, you put in payment info and you're set. One of the easiest food apps around.

Domino's
Domino's

Domino's (DPZ) might have been the easiest app to use. There's no need to set up an account, no signing up, no agreeing to terms. You choose delivery or carry-out and you're off.

Once you enter the address for delivery, you can choose to have your pie delivered ASAP or at a specified time an hour or more in advance. If you want to save the address to your profile, the app redirects you to make one. If not, you go straight to the fun part: building your own pizza (or browsing the larger-than-expected menu.)

Once you've got your order in the cart, checkout is simple. Choose to pay on the app with a card or pay in cash to the delivery person. Domino's also encourages you to make a profile once you've built your order, but it's not required to place one.

McDonald's
McDonald's

The McDonald's (MCD) app's first screen asks new users if the app can use your location even when you don't have it open so it can suggest deals and promotions wherever you are - which feels a bit like it's encroaching on privacy.

If you don't say yes, the app can't figure out where you are when you want to make your "favorite" location. You then must go into iPhone settings to specify that that app can use your location only when it's open.

McDonald's also doesn't let you order via the app, only view the menu and see promotions. I expected to be able to place an order, especially since there are 74 locations in Manhattan and you can already get McDonald's delivered via Uber Eats. Shouldn't at least some of them be able to process mobile orders?

Mobile ordering is reportedly on the way.

Taco Bell
Taco Bell

Yum! Brands-owned (YUM) Taco Bell app has options to create an account for promotions and information or to skip straight to placing an order. As a millennial, I can tell the app was created with me in mind. The lines are clean and the pictures are all of people who look a whole lot like me.

This app also wants to use your location when the app isn't open, but it waits to ask you until you select a menu item. Once you've chosen a location, you can alter your order to add sauces and toppings.

You can choose to pay in the app with a credit or debit card or with Visa (V) checkout. Even as someone who rarely eats Taco Bell, I liked this app the best. 

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