Thursday, September 25, 2014

Curbs, CUPS, and RouTEAM. AKA: Stuff I Tried in DC and NY.

The East Coast is a very happenin' place. Technology may pay a big part in the world overall, but as far as the US is concerned, I think the East Coast is more up to date on the trendiness of apps, phones, and all the ways we can make technology work for us and make our lives easier. So of course, while in Rome, do as the Romans, and try all their fun apps and websites.I imagine that soon these apps and websites will be coming over to the West Coast, and when that happens, I would like you to be prepared and know (in my opinion) what works and what doesn't.

So let's start by talking about RouTEAM. RouTEAM is a company based in Washington, DC that aims to help people live healthier lifestyles. Their website or "online marketplace" helps their customers set health goals and book classes for mental and physical health in the DC area. While this service isn't yet available outside of DC, it is one that could be come hugely successful nationwide as yoga and other healthy activities become more popular in the US. 

So....What About It?

RouTEAM's website is simple to use and clearly organized so that anyone can figure it out. While I had the upper-hand of having my good friend and employee of RouTEAM, Nadia Chilmonik,  helping me register for the website, I'm sure I could have figured it out easily on my own. The minimalistic design makes searching for yoga classes and reading instructor profiles an enjoyable experience, and one that doesn't take overly long. There are a variety of courses offered, and because we were on E Street, many were within walking distance of Nadia's apartment, which was a plus. So, after creating a profile and registering for a 6:30 am yoga class through the website, I was ready to go. Until, after not seeing my best friend for a year, I stayed up until 2:30 am talking with her and we decided maybe sunrise yoga wasn't the best idea for us. So on the plus side, cancelling a class is just as easy as booking it! When you book your class, it shows up on your profile. If you want to cancel, all you do is click the handy dandy "cancel class" link listed directly below the class title and time.

RouTEAM, please go public soon and come over to Washington State. This website is so handy, and for health and fitness buffs, a priceless resource. Instead of having to Google all the different places there might be class, all the locations are listed conveniently in one place, just a short walk or taxi ride away.

However, if you're going to take a taxi, do yourself a favor and do NOT use Curb (previously taxi magic).

Curb is an app available for download on iPhone and Android that allows you to book and pay for your taxi all from your smartphone. In theory, this is a very good idea and along the lines of Uber and Lyft. However, many users are saying when the app was Taxi Magic, it was just tops. Now, everyone hates it.

So....What About It?

Nadia, her friend Pooja, and I downloaded this app after seeing an ad for it in a taxi on the way home from the bus station, and realized with download we got a free taxi ride.

The only problem is, the whole point of curb is to put taxis back in competition with apps like Uber and Lyft (both of which work amazingly, by the way. However, a Lyft driver I had who works for both Uber and Lyft said the Lyft drivers and customers are friendlier. You heard it here first, kids).  However, what Lyft and Uber have is exactly what Curb is missing. With Lyft and Uber once you request a ride, someone is on the way immediately. With Curb, if no one is available who is registered with Curb, which is very possible since it was recently revamped, you are put on a wait list, which you aren't actually told about. The only reason I know this is because after waiting 20 minutes for a car, we called customer service and THEY told us that. We were also never told our ride was on the way, until they called and said they were out front of the apartment.

Then, once we finally got to where we were trying to go, the driver of the cab hadn't been instructed on how the app works, so they didn't know that we could pay from our phones. Which made things really awkward, and even more irritating. My suggestion? Give this app a few months or even a year to work all the kinks out and maybe try again.

Over in New York, we tried out CUPS, a coffee app that has just recently (as in about two years ago) come over to America (exclusively NY). The app allows users to find close-by independent coffee shops and get discounts on drinks with prepaid coffee plans. This app is beneficial to shop owners and customers, since the customers save money and the shop owners gain a larger customer base.

So.... What About It? 

The CUPS app works relatively well and even directs you to the nearest coffee shop that is registered with the app. Once you get to the coffee shop you enter a code and place your order. If you are wanting to call in, you can pre-order your drink, or order it in the store. We had just downloaded the app, so our first cup of coffee was free, but when we got to the shop in Spanish Harlem (about three blocks from our hostel) the barista tried to charge us for our drink and was not really sure how the procedure was supposed to go at all. From my experience, this app is brilliant and really great for local businesses, employers just need to make sure their employees are better informed. coffee!

Welp, that just about takes up all the time we have today at "Unwritten". Check back later for more posts!

Alexis Olmstead is a 20something living in Okanogan County and blogging from her basement bedroom. She aims to educate and inspire people with her blog, but is patiently waiting for her moment in the spotlight. If you would like her to review your product, please email her.


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