Starbucks wants to make it easier for Apple users to send coffee and food to one another.
The Seattle company announced Wednesday a new feature that allows people to send Starbucks gifts within Apple’s Messages app and with Apple Pay.
Starting in April, customers will be able to send and receive gift cards through iMessage on an iPhone or iPad. Users pay for the gift via Apple Pay, and the recipient can redeem the credit from their device when making a purchase.
Starbucks users can already do this via the Starbucks app, but now it’s possible to do the same from iMessage.
Starbucks Chief Technology Officer Gerri Martin-Flickinger made the announcement on stage at the company’s annual shareholders meeting in Seattle. She showed a demo of one co-worker giving a fellow colleague a Starbucks gift card, all from within the iMessage app.
“We are driving these types of solutions all over the world,” she noted.
Starbucks did something similar this past December when it enabled social gifting within China’s popular WeChat app that is used by more than 800 million monthly active users. Incoming Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson said today that in the first six weeks of the WeChat integration, the company has seen more than 1.2 million Starbucks transactions via the social gifting platform.
Starbucks’ China Digital Vice President Molly Liu also spoke at the shareholders meeting and talked about the company’s social gifting feature in China, which is Starbucks’ fastest growing market. She showed an example of her son gifting her a coffee via WeChat so that she could recover from jet lag.
Last year, Starbucks enabled a feature within Microsoft Outlook to let people purchase and send Starbucks gift cards via email.
Starbucks continues to push forward with new features that allow people to buy coffee and food from their devices, both with its own app — Mobile Order & Pay is now used by 3 million people — and third party platforms. On Wednesday it announced that Ford vehicles equipped with its SYNC3 voice-activated technology will be able to order from Starbucks by saying, “Alexa, ask Starbucks to start my order,” utilizing Amazon’s voice platform.
The company also continues to roll out a feature on its mobile app called “My Starbucks Barista,” which uses artificial intelligence and chatbots to let people order food and drink. The service is now available to more than 100,000 customers across the U.S.