Most of the time, at home, I drink tea. Probably too much of it! But when I’m out and about, I quite like having a posh coffee from time to time. You know the time – all frothed milk and cinnamon (especially cinnamon!)
They’re quite expensive but I don’t mind splashing out now and again for one if it’s really nice. I like it even better when they’re free, mind.
So you might think I’d be glad to have one of those loyalty cards – in fact I have got one, for Costa coffee. If you scan it every time you buy a coffee then every so often you’ve got enough points to get your coffee free. Great.
But the problem is it’s yet another card to carry in my wallet. Along with the petrol loyalty card, the supermarket one and so on. And you might even have more than one supermarket or petrol one, if you don’t always use the same supermarket or petrol station.
Which is why I think it’s a great idea that a lot of these companies are now giving you the option to an app on your smartphone instead of using your actual loyalty card.
Costa have been doing this for a while and Tesco are now following suit. I expect others will too.
The way it works is you still sign up for a loyalty card and get a physical one, but you can also download an app. You log into it – exactly how depends on the different company, but on some you need to put in the number on your card or simply log in with the details you used when you first registered the card.
Then instead of carrying the card, you open the app on your phone and it displays a special barcode called a QR code and that’s what you scan at the tills. You don’t need to be able to access the internet or anything while you scan the code – just to your phone turned on.
That works exactly the same as a physical loyalty card but you don’t have to carry dozens. Oh, and often you can check how many points you have on your card just by opening the app, which can be handy.
It’s not ideal if you don’t carry your phone with you when you’re out and about (or if you don’t have one, of course – though you could in theory use a tablet if you have one of those that’s not too big and cumbersome) so it’s not for everyone, but it could be really handy for a lot of people.
Oh, and don’t worry if you change your phone – you can download the app again onto your new phone, type in the same details as last time and carry on where you left off.
Tim’s favorite gadgets… noise cancelling headphones
A while ago I mentioned a few of my favorite gadgets – well, here’s another one. Noise cancelling headphones.
I must admit when I first heard of them I was suspicious.
But I tried a pair out and am surprised at how well they work.
The idea is that whenever you’re doing something noisy (for example travelling on a noisy train or plane or something) you put them on. They do cover your ears pretty well, but that’s not why they work so well.
There’s a tiny microphone on the outside of the headphones that picks up the noise you would hear. It then plays the opposite sound to that through the headphones, which literally cancels the sound out.
At first I was skeptical that it could do it well enough to work – and fast enough (sound travels pretty quickly after all). But it seems to.
I tried them out and they really do seem to work. You can still hear the outside noise, but it’s much quieter and less intrusive.
You can either just do that or also play music through them like you would through normal headphones, but better because you can hear it clearer without the background noise.
Again, they’re not for everyone. But if you are often in a situation where there’s a lot of background noise you want to block out, they might be handy.
Anyway, I’m off to put the kettle on now – all that talk about coffee has made me thirsty…