App of the Week: SeamlessWeb
List pulled from the 77027 area code.
Platforms: iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, plus a mobile friendly Web site
Web site: SeamlessWeb.com
As long as there have been restaurants and lazy people, there have been food delivery services. From the milk man to the pizza delivery guy, getting food brought to you when you aren't rich enough to afford a chef and/or a butler is one of the great luxuries of middle-class life.
For years, there have been a handful of delivery services with networks of restaurants that would bring food to your doorstep for a fee. They are particularly beneficial to offices who want to order in but have a bunch of fussy eaters who want mayo but only on the side and the like.
Until now, places like Takeout Taxi were not available to the mobile user (especially since Takeout Taxi's Web site is mostly Flash animation, sigh), which we can only assume is because most people don't order food to be delivered to their cars. But, if you want to order something to pick up, are unable to speak or just want to order via an app because that's how you roll, there is SeamlessWeb.
SeamlessWeb works simply enough. You enter your address information or allow the app to choose your current location and it provides you with a list of restaurants in your area that will deliver. They also have a list of places for pick-up only.
Currently, the app is limited to only about 20 restaurants in the city, most of which appear to be centered around downtown or the Galleria, which is disappointing, but it is hard to tell just how many establishments are represented because there is no full list on the Web site and no way to search the entire city on the app.
The good news is the number of restaurants and cities appears to be growing. Their list of cities is up to 27, including foreign locations like London. Houston is currently the only city in Texas represented by either SeamlessWeb or GrubHub.
The only confusing thing about the app is the prominently featured "Returning Users Login" button, which seems to allow access to additional features, but the only way to create an account -- and this is not sufficiently explained either in the app or on the Web site -- is to place an order, which is not ideal. There is an area for signing up your company for delivery on the Web site, but nothing for individuals.
Frankly, the biggest complaint we had when using the app wasn't the few eateries available -- that is to be expected with a new app in a new area -- but rather the haphazard way in which information was provided both through the app and the Web site. It's hard to tell if their target audience is an individual diner looking for meal delivery or a company placing larger orders for an entire staff.
Even the name SeamlessWeb, which has, as far as we can tell, nothing to do with food at all, doesn't exactly inspire confidence in a food app the way, for example, GrubHub does. But, it is currently the only option in Houston (or Texas, for that matter) and it looks like they have good backing, so hopefully it's just a matter of time before they add restaurants and improve the overall user experience.