Mobile Perks: Google to Offer Free WiFi at Select Starbucks

Google offering free WiFi at StarbucksThanks to Google, every entrepreneur’s favorite second office—the coffee shop—is about to get a major pick-me-up. Google announced yesterday that it’s partnering with Starbucks to bring free WiFi connections to all 7,000 company-operated Starbucks stores.

There are over 13,000 Starbucks stores in the US, some of which are franchised, so it’s possible your favorite Starbucks will be passed over. But if you see “Google Starbucks” as an available network, you’re good to go.

This is more than just free internet. Google promises that wireless connection speeds will be up to 10 times faster than the wireless connections previously offered by the coffee shop. And for those cities that have Google Fiber (so far just Kansas City, but coming soon to Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, and a few other cities), they plan of having speeds up to 100 times faster. So whether you’re uploading video or just listening to music while you work, your wireless experience will be zippier and more seamless.

This isn’t Google’s first experience with free WiFi: they’ve been offering the service in their home city of Mountain View, California, for a while now. They also offered free wireless at certain Starbucks after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.

The incentive for Google is clear: with free, fast internet, more eyeballs can linger on Google’s advertisements, whether through search, YouTube, or elsewhere. The move makes sense for Starbucks, too, increasing the draw for customers to pop in and grab a coffee (or a few, if they plan on staying awhile).

Pay For That Latte With Your Smartphone and the Starbucks App

This one goes out to all my small biz owners who constantly set up small satellite offices at their local Starbucks (in addition to being on a first name basis with all the staff).

The Starbucks app for BlackBerry and iPhone now lets you pay for your premium coffee using your smartphone (I drink hot chocolate in the winter and smoothies in the summer…but this is not about me). After you’ve created a Starbucks account, downloaded the Starbucks app, and linked your account; you can simply show a 2D bar code for the cashier Java Specialist to scan to pay for your moca something-or-the-other. The payment doesn’t pull directly from a credit card, but the app itself acts as a Starbucks Card that you add monies to in order to use…Which shouldn’t be a problem for the Starbucks faithful. If you’re cool with it, you can even save your credit card info to make it easier to reload your virtual card.

This feature of the app started off as a trial in local (you guessed it) Seattle Starbucks stores, but now is ready for a nationwide shine. In addition to paying for merchandise, the Starbucks app lets you check your card balance, monitor your Starbucks reward points and see nearby Starbucks locations on a map or list. If you get a physical Starbucks card as a gift you can still pay by smartphone by adding the gift card’s number and security code to your account.

To download for iPhone, visit the Starbucks Card Mobile app in iTunes. To get it for BlackBerry, visit the Starbucks Card Mobile App for BlackBerry site or text “GO” to 70845 from your smartphone.