Thinking of getting a takeaway? There’s an app for that – and there are a good few avenues for food delivery when you’re sick at home, painfully hungover, or just trying to limit the amount of time you spend out in public with the masses.
While the apps may be somewhat new – all of them have appeared within the past few years – food delivery obviously isn’t. Plenty of restaurants and takeaways have delivery services, meaning they take their meals and courses right to your door instead of making you traipse through your local town or city to pick it up yourself.
Just like the first lockdown, we relied heavily on Just Eat, Deliveroo, Uber Eats, Dominos, Pizza Hut and so much more to help us through such an unprecedented time.
Thankfully, as we enter a second coronavirus-imposed lockdown, we can once again rely on these services to keep us full for a reasonable price.
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The rise of smartphone apps has also made it possible for entities like Deliveroo or JustEat to mobilize the menus of countless restaurants, food spots, and cafes with one dedicated courier service.
So, if you’re looking for a takeaway app that only needs you to travel as far as you can scroll, here’s our guide to the best options out there.
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Deliveroo is to takeaways what Netflix is to TV streaming: it’s probably your first port of call. Founded in 2013, it’s been serving stomachs in the UK, Europe, Australia, and parts of UAE and South East Asia for several years now, and boasts a huge number of restaurants and cuisines, whether you’re craving burgers, pizzas, ramen, sushi, Italian, Thai, or Indian nourishment. You can even order breakfast foods.
The app is well laid out, with clear categories for cuisines, and simple restaurant pages that run you through the food available, user ratings, expected delivery time to your location, and hygiene ratings (if you want to know, that is).
Some chains – such as Wagamama and Pizza Pilgrims – only use Deliveroo, rather than any of the other apps in this guide. Deliveroo also lets you order groceries and the like from supermarkets and off-licenses in the UK, making it easier than ever to never leave your home.
In these trying times of COVID-19, Deliveroo has also introduced a contact-free delivery option, which you can choose at checkout – meaning your driver will knock, leave the delivery at the door, and wait nearby to ensure you’ve received it safely. Whether you’re ill yourself or worried about contamination from drivers bustling out and about, it should help to put you at ease.
Most of the options, however, will slap you with a heft delivery charge unless you shell out for the Deliveroo Plus experience which offers free delivery for a monthly cost.
2. Just Eat
JustEat delivers from almost twice as many restaurants as Deliveroo, with significantly wider coverage than its competitors. It’s been in the market for the longest, to be fair, having spread from its origins in Denmark to over 13 countries, with a major presence in the UK. It now has its own courier service too, rather than merely acting as a marketplace for takeaway spots with their own drivers, as it had before.
The JustEat app arranges things a little differently, with sections for restaurants with no minimum order (if you’re just ordering in for yourself), those with free delivery, or best-known chains. The layout is less slick than Deliveroo’s, and you can’t track your food in the way you would in the Deliveroo app either, meaning it lags behind as a user experience – although JustEat’s larger coverage of the UK means it may be a better port of call for those of you outside London or other major cities.
JustEat is notably better than Deliveroo for its offering of local restaurants you might otherwise skip. For local businesses, it's excellent exposure and, who knows, you might even find you had the best pizza in the UK down the road this whole time.
Fresh from the United States, the Uber-spinoff service, UberEats, delivers food and takeaways to your door in much the same way as Deliveroo or JustEat.
UberEats isn’t quite as prominent in the UK, and does require a standalone app, rather than being part of the main Uber rideshare app – though your account information is pulled over if you have the main app already, making it a pretty convenient setup.
If you're looking for a food order at a discount, chances are you'll get one through Uber Eats. The services frequently send out texts or emails (based on your preference) offering you free delivery, percentages off, or even a flat £5 off your order.
The app prefers to lead with special offers and then lists restaurants in your area, rather than allowing you to search via particular cuisines (which would be the most intuitive option). There is, however, a handy sorting tool for listing options via price, or with regard to specific dietary restrictions – vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or halal.
You can also ask your courier to wait in the car for you to pick up the food, or come directly to your door. And – in case you were worried – you won’t be sharing rides with a curry or pile of pizzas, as Uber’s person-cabs and food couriers work separately.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.