Paying restaurants after a meal shouldn't be as difficult as it regularly is. The intricate and annoying dance of requesting the bill goes on, though: the strain to make waiter-customer eye contact, the universal in-air gesture of a signature, and the multiple trips back-and-forth for the tip.
But the days of yelling "Check, please!" just may be coming to end. The new iPhone app Cover is seeking to do just that by teaming up with restaurants to eliminate checks and put the ability to pay at any time right to the customer's phone. This should be good news for both customers and the business.
For customers it'll get rid of that awkward post-meal but pre-departure time, a sometimes-20-minute period that Newsweek recently called "a national crisis and disgrace." So, too, will ending the paper check cut down on wasting waiters' time, freeing them up to take care of other customers quicker. As smartphone ubiquity takes over most cities in the coming years, it's a wonder that the leather-jacketed bill still exists at all.
There are already specific iPhone apps that allow people to pay by phone, such as one by Pizza Express or Starbucks. But these are largely limited to that restaurant brand alone, while Cover hopes to work with any and all restaurants willing to participate. Though Cover has been in its beta phase of testing, the app is already being used at limited New York restaurants, including Carbone and Parm, and it rolled out its newest version on the App Store last week.
The app still has its issues, as it can only split the bill evenly rather than in different increments for each person. But when these smaller issues get fixed, it could be the end of going through the motions of getting the check. In our book, that deserves a check-plus.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.