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Fast Company reports that McDonald’s “is acquiring a Bay Area voice-recognition startup called Apprente, with an eye toward using it to take orders at drive-through windows. The companies have already run demos at McDonald’s test restaurants, and McDonald’s says Apprente’s technology is aimed at handling ‘complex, multilingual, multi-accent and multi-item conversational ordering’.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Fast Company, “This marks the third recent tech investment for McDonald’s. Earlier this year, the company bought Dynamic Yield, which customizes drive-through menus based on factors like weather and time of day. McDonald’s also invested in Plexure, a New Zealand company that makes some of its mobile apps.”

Fox Business reports that Taco Bell is introducing a new vegetarian menu, rolling out new meatless alternatives to some 7,000 locations but not using fake meat in its list of ingredients.

“As more fast-food chains double down on menu items with meatless alternatives from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods,” the story says, “Taco Bell has teamed up with the American Vegetarian Association to rollout meatless alternatives to classics like its Crunchwrap Supreme and burritos … Taco Bell’s decision to implement a permanent vegetarian menu comes as other fast-food competitors like Burger King, White Castle, and KFC have been adding alternative meat products from the likes of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods to menus.”

Asked why, Liz Matthews, the company’s chief innovation officer, says, “It’s really easy for brands to do what everyone else is doing. We want to go after things that are really exciting and are successful, and not just mediocre. At this point, we’re not leaning into that.”
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