Lyft and Disney to Provide ‘Minnie Vans’ to Transport Guests Around Walt Disney World

Lyft is continuing its knack for unique partnerships with other brands to provide innovative experiences for customers. In addition to partnering with Taco Bell, Lyft is now working with Disney Parks by offering a new on-demand ride service, the ‘Minnie Van.’ The next time you visit Walt Disney World, you can use your Lyft app to request a ‘Minnie Van,’ naturally sporting Minnie Mouse’s signature red and white polka dot design, to transport up to six guests to any resort, theme park or other location at Walt Disney World. Guests with children will be relieved to note that each ‘Minnie Van’ is equipped with two child seats for safety. Currently only available as a pilot at Walt Disney World’s Yacht & Beach Club resorts, each ‘Minnie Van’ is operated by a cast member in full costume as opposed to a Lyft driver.

Read more about Lyft, Walt Disney World and the ‘Minnie Vans’ at TechCrunch


Coffee and AI? Check Your Local Starbucks

Are you a Starbucks’ Rewards member, or even a devoted regular customer? Well, Starbucks is committed to getting to know you and your tastes better with a little help from AI. This fall, AI will be included as part of Starbucks’ new cloud-based Digital Flywheel program. Starbucks will use AI to track patterns in customers’ orders to make sure they can accommodate demand, in addition to suggestion additional treats customers may want to try. AI will also enable Starbucks to offer special offers to its customers based on the weather, day of the week, holidays, or even a customer’s birthday. Thanks to AI and the new Digital Flywheel program, Starbucks can further its commitment to connecting its brand and customer behavior across all platforms, whether digital, mobile, or in-store.

Read more about Starbucks and AI at PYMTS.com


Royal Bank of Canada Allows Customers to “Ask Siri” to Pay Bills

Starbucks isn’t the only corporation improving the customer experience with AI. If you’re a customer of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Siri can now pay your bills. A recent revamp of RBC’s mobile app enables customers to use voice commands to instruct Siri to make payments from their account. Based on voice commands, Siri instructs the app to make the transaction and the account is automatically debited with the payment sent to the payee that is verified by Siri. RBC customers can also use Apple’s iMessage to send Interac payments directly to their contacts, using TouchID to authenticate the transfer. RBC, one of the leaders in implementing AI in Canada, will be adding more features based on advancements developed in its innovation labs.

Read more about AI, Mobile and RBC at Finextra


Google’s Gboard Now Adds Doodling, YouTube and Google Maps to the iPhone

If you’re a fan of Google’s keyboard Gboard, then you’ll be pleased with several new features that have just been added to the app for iOS users. Besides integrating Google search and other relevant information such as flight times, news, and business listings into the smartphone keyboard, the app now enables users to share their location or an address directly from the keyboard. Users can also search and share YouTube videos from the keyboard without opening the YouTube app. Other recent advances to the Gboard also include smarter phrase suggestions, translations, and GIF and emoji suggestions. Also, if you like to draw, Gboard now supports a drawing feature on iOS that enables users to doodle and share their creations with others from the app.

Read more about Gboard’s new features at TechCrunch


Amazon’s Alexa is Now Compatible with Fire TV

Thanks to Alexa’s new features, the voice-activated virtual assistant can now control Amazon’s Fire TV through voice commands. Currently only available in the U.S., users of Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick can ask Alexa from any Echo device to play videos, launch apps and control other video playback functions. Although Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick already featured voice activation through its remote control, the integration with Alexa via an Echo device is a more natural fit for consumers in their homes. Eventually, Amazon also plans to integrate Fire TV and Alexa with in-home smart cameras so that images from the cameras can be viewed through Fire TV using voice commands.

Read more about Alexa and Amazon’s Fire TV at RetailDive