A new version of the Domino's Pizza app tries to offer the convenience of voice ordering without having to speak with an actual human.
When placing an order, users should see a microphone button in the bottom-left corner of the app. Press the button, and a voice assistant named "Dom" introduces himself. You can then have a back-and-forth conversation with Dom, adding items one-by-one to the order.
The basic functionality is impressive enough. You can place a lengthy pizza order--toppings and all--with a single voice command, and Dom will even ask for clarification on certain items. For instance, if you ask for "peppers," he'll ask if you meant sliced green, roasted red or banana. And if the item you ask for doesn't exist on the menu, he'll offer something similar.
But true to its current "beta" tag, the service isn't without hiccups. After entering several commands in succession, Dom failed to add toppings to one pizza, and added green peppers to another order when I didn't ask for them, so you'll want to check the final order carefully. Also, Dom can only enter one item at a time (you can't say "one large pizza and 14 hot wings"), and can't understand advanced questions like, "What's that thing where the pizza is made out of chicken?"
All snarkiness about human interaction aside, the voice controls do serve a practical purpose. Compared to placing a phone order, voice commands let you carefully review the order on your screen, so there's less of a chance of miscommunciation. And for lengthy pizza orders, voice is faster than thumbing through a touch screen menu or fumbling around with Kinect motion controls.
While voice ordering doesn't make Domino's pizza taste any better, it gives the company an edge in the pizza technology wars. Pizza Hut might have to bring that interactive ordering table out of the concept stage sooner rather than later.