At first, it seemed like a gimmicky way for mobile device manufacturers to flash their entry into every cranny of life, but by now the use of POS apps is widening, and with that expansion some truly innovative functionality is entering the picture. From credit-card swipes to CRM, apps for iPads and Androids are ready to do everything sales-related you can think of…and even some things you’d never guess. Here are a few of the most interesting game-changers:

Starbucks

Given that 14% of in-store patrons of the mocha moguls already use smartphones to make purchases, there’s little surprise that Starbucks would be on the cutting edge of the cash (and cash register)-free revolution. Indeed, their latest update of its POS app is truly a harbinger of things to come, brewing together convenience with a splash of fun.

All on one visually-pleasing dashboard, users can view recent transactions, check in on rewards status (including any currently-due booty), and even tip the staff. However, the most buzzworthy aspect is the app is its shake-to-pay feature, which pulls up a barcode when you’re ready to be scanned at the counter. Novel enough to get people talking but not so silly as to be ignored, this one hits the mark.

Shopify

From mom-and-pops to mega-chains, many retailers are migrating towards the use of tablets in lieu of conventional cash registers — or even edgier cousins along the lines of Micros. For businesses of multiple scales, the POS app from providers Shopify is a great way to get into the game.

Everything a cashier would regularly do is all accomplished through the store’s iPad, and Shopify even provides peripherals (credit card scanner, receipt printer) to make its program the whole package. However, what makes the app such as godsend to managers is its online syncing functionality. Brick-and-mortar sales and website purchases are registered in one place — and the nightmare of multiple-site inventory is laid to rest.

Wendy’s

Only a few years back, fast food chains were often the last ones to make the leap away from cash-only counters. Now that new technology has done away with the prohibitive costs of micro-transactions, franchises like Burger King and now Wendy’s are leading the way.

While Wendy’s app is not unique in the field, it’s highly representative. For one thing, purchases are not brokered directly through your bank account but via a Wendy’s-specific rechargeable fund, essentially functioning as a virtual gift-card. For customers still anxious about security hacks during mobile-based transactions, this measure is reassuring: thieves may get away with some petty hamburglary, but they can’t wipe out your bank account. Best of all, though, is the app’s custom-ordering function that allows you to personalize your order — and minimizes human error when you want to hold the mayo.

mPower Beverage

Finally, here’s testament to the fact that app-designers are looking to customize purchasing experiences as tailor-made for as many industries as possible. Crafted especially for purveyors of potent potables, mPower Beverage brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “case management.” As mPower is automatically geared to sell wine and beer in various tiers without creating an inventory fiasco, thirsty consumers can break up a six pack without getting grief from the Qwik E Mart staff.

As cool as these apps are, you can bet that this is just the beginning. Until programmers find a way to wipe the last crumbs of that burger off your mouth, they’ll be scrambling to make an app for that.

Camille McClane is a writer, researcher and editor. Her favorite subject to focus on is emerging technology trends and its overall effect within business expansion and relations. She hopes the readers of MobileOrchard.com enjoy this article as much as she enjoyed writing it.