In an attempt to digitize its dining experience, a newly-opened McDonald’s in Hampton Roads, Virginia will now offer customers complimentary use of Apple iPads installed at various booths of its retail store. The iPads will be held up on white stands, one of which holds two devices back-to-back, so diners can check their Facebook profiles, play games, and even shop online while they’re munching away at their favorite fast food item. 

“It’s a great idea to stay relevant, especially to a new generation,” Hugh Fard, the iPad-equipped McDonald’s owner who opened the new location last week, told The Virginian-Pilot.  ”People like to multitask, so why not provide that element for them?”

Fard said he found the inspiration to add iPads to his restaurant from a recent McDonald’s convention in Florida, and found that McDonald’s stores in Europe had iPad offerings developed and installed by a French-based company. After months waiting for an approval from the American-based headquarters, Fard was able to successfully lease five iPads from the French company so in case the devices are stolen or damaged, the company will replace the tablets.

It’s an interesting way to keep customers in the store longer (despite the fast food nature of the restaurant), but American McDonald’s has yet to warm up to the idea on a national basis. Depending on how the iPad installation is received, it could be possible for McD’s to begin expanding the feature to other retailers across the states. If so, it could be certain McDonald’s will begin installing its own Web limitations on the iPad so customers are restricted to using family-friendly websites and apps while you’re under the golden arches.

But still, as if it isn’t gross enough to touch public bathroom door knobs, touchscreen ticket booths, and escalator handrails, swiping your hand all over an iPad that’s been fondled by fries-covered, McDouble-d fingertips may just change your mentality about tablets forever. 

What do you think of free iPad use in McDonald’s? A fun idea, or totally unnecessary?

Image Credit: The Virginia-Pilot