It's never been easier to be a part of a party that you aren't actually part of.
Through virtual giving apps like bartab, you can buy drinks or bar food for your friends via your and their mobile devices.
With bartab, you choose a friend and a place to buy a drink for them. Once you buy it, they just show a code on their mobile phone to the bartender and the drink is served.
But as more and more these types of apps launch they're coming up with more and more ways to be useful and practical.
Take, for example, NOOM! which stands for Next One On Me. Right now, it only works in Austin but it breaks the mold of locking your friends into visiting a particular establishment. Instead of the sender choosing a bar and then buying a drink from that bar, NOOM! allows you to send a drink or treat to a friend and then the friend/recipient gets to choose from a list of places nearby to redeem that gift.
There's also the new Text-Me-A-Drink app, which allows you to send a drink to a friend via a text message. But this one is specifically designed to buy a drink for a friend in Ireland. This one also requires you choose the pub where the drink will be received. Developers say it was designed so that Irish people living abroad could still have something of a presence back at celebrations in their homeland.
And though it may have started with more adult-oriented drinks, Dunkin' Donuts is getting in on the action. Users of the Dunkin' Donuts app can send Dunkin' credit, from $2 to $100 to anyone. The recipient then shows their mobile phone screen to the cashier to be scanned. It's effectively a gift card minus the actual card. The app also allows the user to fill up their own virtual account, place and pay for an order within the app itself and then, when the phone is scanned, the cashier hands off the food.
All these person-to-person gift-giving apps are free and usually require Facebook to login. And though the apps themselves may be just for IOS or Android phones, most also allow users on either end to make purchases through the phone's mobile browser.