Personal Tech for Women: 5 Things You Need To Know About Apps For On-Demand Services

Monday, March 30, 2015


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Apps like Instacart deliver groceries right to your doorstep.

Before drones start parking our cars, delivering our groceries and cleaning our homes, we’ll have to settle for smartphones. Since 2014, the market for mobile apps that deliver on-demand services has grown exponentially. And those trends are not slowing down, as investors continue to pour money into apps that will replace the old-world way of doing things and make us more lazy… if not more efficient. Here are 5 types of on-demand services available now, or coming soon, for daily tasks, shopping and errands.

1. Pay remotely to park

A popular parking app is It does what one would assume, and steers you towards affordable and conveniently located parking facilities by comparing rates. The free app, which is a partner of PassportParking, allows visitors to pay for their parking remotely, without queuing at a pay station. You can add more time and receive alerts about your about-to-expire-parking all through the app. 

2. Home cleaning with a handyman

At a moment’s notice you can book a house (or office) cleaning and within 24 hours a skilled cleaner will arrive at your door. You can even send texts to your cleaner beforehand with special directions and info about what rooms need attention. The app is called Handy and, go figure, you can also book an expert handyman to fix your apartment’s aches and pain, from knobs and locks to interior painting and furniture assembly. They also provide plumbing and electrical services. Handy boasts a 60-second booking process, secure payment, and a 100 percent money-back guarantee, in case you’d rather keep your home’s sanitation in your own hands.

3. Curbside convenience

Okay, you do have to leave your house with this app, but you won’t necessarily have to “enter” a store – just the curbside, as it promises. Curbside allows you to find and buy products available at nearby stores. These are going to be bigger, corporate stores like Target, Crate and Barrel, and Home Depot. Place your order and wait to be notified to pick it up. Then just head inside to the “designated area.” At some locations, Curbside has arranged actual attendants outside of the store, so you don't even need to park – they simply hand you the bag and you’re off. This app is obviously for people who either loath shopping at big box stores (but need them anyway) or have no time (so they think). Or maybe they just want to avoid another scene from their kids at Target. Plus, there’s no service free. Prices of items are the same in the store as they are on Curbside. 

4. Postmates- Coming Soon to Providence

Postmates is a an app that allow you to order items for delivery 2 ways. You can select a place from the Featured Stores list on the home screen, or you can search for a specific restaurant, store or type of food by selecting “search” at the top of the screen and entering your search. There’s also the Postmates General Store, where you can get everything from bath, body and baby products to household items, school supplies, pain relievers and even condoms. All of it can be detailed in a shopping list using a custom order field and delivered to your door within an hour. Their mission is “to become the on-demand delivery infrastructure for every major city in the world.” Agoraphobics unite – you’ll never have to leave the house. 

5. Food without foraging

Instacart delivers your groceries from the comfort of your smartphone. As an app worth 2 billion dollars, Instacart took the #1 spot this year on Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies. It’s available in 15 cities across the nation, and is coming to Providence soon. Using the app, a customer pays from $3.99 to $9.99 to have groceries delivered from area stores And somehow you don’t need to be a Costco member to order from Costco on Instacart. The company has recently partnered with Yummly, a popular recipe service, to deliver ingredients on-demand too. Instacart is also hiring – constantly it seems – for shoppers that can make up to $25 an hour. 


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Melanie Sevcenko is a journalist for radio, print and online. She reports internationally for BBC World Service and Monocle Radio (M24) in the UK, and for Deutsche Welle in Germany. Melanie also reports for the online news source GoLocalProv. Her work has been broadcast by CBC in Canada and the Northwest News Network, and published by Al Jazeera English, Global Post, Pacific Standard, the Toronto Star and USA Today, amongst others.


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