In our increasingly mobile world, it is possible to leave your wallet at home and lead a perfectly useful day—at least in San Francisco, where Rooster cofounder Jennifer 8. Lee lives. In fact, Lee has left her iPhone at home and, after some minor panic, managed to go about her normal day's business.
"Your phone has become this magic wand," she told Fast Company.
"Wave, and things will appear." Even though she had no cash, no credit cards, and no transit card, she realized she could still eat, get around, eat, and shop because her credit card is linked up with various app-based services.
As the app economy has ballooned, our phones have become our main access point to all the services we need to get along in this world. Fast Company spoke to Jennifer 8. Lee about how she lives her life using her phone, and how you can, too.
Forget Seamless's 45 minute delivery wait times. Sprig and SpoonRocket, two of the mobile-first food delivery services Lee uses on a regular basis, will have your food at your curbside in less than half the time.
The San Francisco-based services have similar business models—they prepare hot meals en masse and deliver them within 10-20 minutes—but different hours of operation. SpoonRocket does lunch for $6 to $8, and Sprig does dinner for $10 plus tip. Unlike Seamless, which hooks up to local restaurants, Sprig and SpoonRocket make their own gourmet and healthy meals. The day's options are limited, usually a choice of two meals, one vegetarian and one not. But they are always "uber healthy," Lee explained. "Lots of kale and lots of lentils," she added.
Since the services only prepare one or two dishes for the day, delivery takes just as long as driving from their hub to your office. "They basically have the meals ready to go," explained Lee. So, instead of waiting for the local Thai spot to whip up some green curry, you get your cheese tortellini genovese in 10 minutes.
Google Shopping Express, which is currently only available in parts of the Bay Area to a select group of testers, does your errands for you. "You can basically shop anytime, anywhere," explained Lee. Users can order items from a handful of retailers that Google has partnered with, such as Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Target, and along with either a $4.95 shipping fee or a yearly membership, the delivery, which can consist of an amalgamation of things from all the different stores, will show up at your door that day.
You can't order certain things, like fresh food, but the idea is that people won't have to run around to five different strip malls to pick up everything they need—Google will do it for you.
Uber, the car-on-demand service, isn't much of a secret, but Lee, who travels a lot, considers herself an Uber X expert. "Uber is probably one of the apps I use most on my iPhone at this point," she said. Because of her experience ordering cars with her iPhone, she has determined the right and wrong ways to use Uber across cities.
Here is her official rankings list, based on the rates and how quickly a car will come pick you up. "It's really good in San Francisco; it's pretty good in D.C.; it's okay in Boston; it's really expensive in New York, so it's probably not worth it; it's not available in Miami, which kind of surprised me; it was good in Seattle, but now the Seattle City Council sort of sunk it."
For her, the Uber dispatchers in the best cities have cars come to you within five minutes and cost the same or less than a taxi. Reliability is also important. "In San Francisco, I can budget in Uber time," she said. "That didn't seem to be the case in Cambridge."
For Lee, her magical phone has made life a lot easier. "It's great because oftentimes if you're working and being creative, and you're in a zone, you look up and you say, 'Oh fuck, I have to eat,'" said Lee. "If you're lost in doing something, these things can help you take care of basic life issues."
But despite all the conveniences, Lee hasn't totally bought into what can, at times, seem like a too-virtual dystopian version of our connected world. "It's a very weird thing to live in San Francisco and have these services exist," she added. "It's this life where nothing is a struggle. If it didn't already exist, I would think it wasn't possible."
[Image: Flickr user Thomas Leuthard]