Uber is merging its ride-hailing and meals supply apps, including a raft of recent security options, boosting alternate modes of journey like bikes, scooters, and public transportation, and getting concerned in “virtual restaurants,” along with dozens of different product bulletins that quantity to a serious bid to change into, as the corporate’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says, “the operating system for your everyday life.”
The corporate rolled out the product updates at an elaborate, Apple-like occasion in San Francisco on September 26th. However first, Khosrowshahi sat down for an unique interview with The Verge to elucidate why overhauling the app is smart at a time when Uber is struggling to stem its huge money losses, going through questions on its strategy to security, and preventing a number of regulatory battles across the nation.
“We don’t just live in the digital sphere, and the real world comes with all kinds of complications,” Khosrowshahi stated. “And for us, the challenge is: how do we navigate those complications and how do we make sure that we’re a constructive part of everyone’s life?”
You possibly can learn extra from our interview with Khosrowshahi right here.
Uber’s saying lots of stuff, so let’s take one factor at a time.
The house display
Uber goes to look completely different proper out of the gate. While you first open the app, as an alternative of seeing the map and the search bar asking the place you’d wish to go to, you’ll see two containers: one that claims “get a ride” and the opposite that claims “order food.” Uber is merging its meals supply service Uber Eats into its foremost ride-hailing app.
“What we do see is that the users who use our app both for riding and eating are our most satisfied customers,” Khosrowshahi stated. “We have more touchpoints with them than anyone else, and our relationship becomes closer.”
There may be the potential of including different providers sooner or later, whether or not it’s grocery supply or one thing else.
Uber is introducing a brand new four-digit PIN verification system to ensure riders don’t get into the unsuitable car. In the event you decide in, you’ll must say the PIN out loud to your driver earlier than she or he can begin the journey.
Uber can also be creating a brand new expertise that makes use of ultrasound waves to mechanically confirm you’re in the appropriate automobile, no PIN wanted. The rider’s telephone will ship this ultrasonic sign to the driving force’s telephone to mechanically confirm the distinctive PIN. That expertise needs to be able to roll out in a number of months, in line with Sachin Kansal, head of security product for Uber.
A new “on-trip reporting” function will enable riders to report security incidents — inappropriate conduct, a protracted cease, or an out-of-the-way route — in the course of the journey, versus having to attend till the journey is accomplished. Uber says its security workforce will observe up after the journey.
Final yr, Uber added a panic button to dial 911 from the app. Now, it can additionally allow you to textual content 911 in cities and counties that assist this expertise. Uber will mechanically embody the make, mannequin, license plate quantity, and site of the car within the textual content.
Uber is updating the “Real-Time ID Check” it launched in 2016, through which drivers take selfies to confirm their identification. Now, drivers must transfer their head round, blink, and smile to supply one other layer of safety.
Lastly, the app will now ship a push notification to your telephone for those who get dropped off close to a motorcycle lane, so that you don’t by chance hit somebody with the door.
The brand new security merchandise come amid severe allegations towards Uber concerning its slack, risk-averse strategy to rider security. Uber’s particular investigations workforce, which fields complaints from riders and drivers, will not be allowed to escalate these points to regulation enforcement or file official police reviews “even when they get confessions of felonies,” in line with The Washington Submit. They’re additionally not allowed to advise victims or potential victims of crimes to hunt authorized counsel.
Tales like these can result in a lack of belief amongst riders, one thing Uber could be very conscious of. “We don’t think trust can be won with one thing,” Kansal informed The Verge. “I think the way we want to win trust is by showing commitment, and that’s going to be long term.”
Did you hear? Uber loves buses and trains now! Yeah, positive. Uber has stated it desires to compete with public transportation. It made that clear in its S-1 submitting to the US Securities and Trade Fee, nevertheless it later edited it out. Now, Uber says it desires to enrich, not kill, public transportation, and it’s including real-time scheduling and planning to its app to show it.
Uber’s new transit function is dwell in Denver and London, and as we speak, the corporate is saying a number of extra cities, together with San Francisco, Mexico Metropolis, and Paris. New York Metropolis is coming later this yr together with six different at present unnamed cities. To begin out, it can simply be scheduling and fare info, however Uber hopes so as to add ticketing (prefer it does in Denver) within the close to future.
While you plug in your vacation spot, if there’s a subway or bus that may get you there, it can seem on the high of the record. And it’ll most likely be the most affordable choice. “To some extent, we’re competing against ourselves,” Khosrowshahi stated. “But we have the philosophy that if there’s a better product out there for the user, and we think an integrated movement solution is better for the user, we should be the ones competing against ourselves versus others doing it.”
Uber’s electrical bikes and scooters are getting a lift, too. Beginning subsequent month, Uber will start displaying bikes and scooters on the map, each its Soar bikes and scooters and rival Lime’s scooters as nicely. The corporate will make this transformation within the 28 cities the place its two-wheeled choices can be found, plus a dozen US cities the place Lime scooters can be found through the Uber app.
Uber can also be tackling the issue of depleted batteries by constructing a community of Soar charging kiosks, which is able to enable riders to swap out a depleted battery for a contemporary one, on the go. These kiosks will begin to seem in choose cities later this yr.
“We’re making a very big bet on e-bikes,” Khosrowshahi stated. “They make you feel like Superman when you’re on these things.”
Along with merging its Uber Eats app immediately into its foremost app, Uber can also be doubling down on its meals supply enterprise. It’s rolling out a brand new rewards program for frequent meals supply clients, through which they will earn redeemable factors each time they take an Uber journey or get Uber Eats.
Uber can also be saying allergy-friendly filters for Uber Eats, so folks with allergy symptoms or dietary restrictions can make sure you keep away from sure meals of their order. Now, when selecting a dish, you may talk your allergy or dietary restriction to eating places via the app. Lastly, Uber is partnering with movie star chef Rachael Ray to launch a brand new, “virtual restaurant” that may solely be accessible on Uber Eats. However Ray’s meals will solely be accessible in 10 cities for 10 weeks.
Uber is updating its app for drivers to incorporate an “earnings estimator” to assist drivers higher preserve monitor of their cash. Uber says it desires to supply drivers extra info to allow them to higher perceive what they will fairly count on to earn — even earlier than they take their first journey.
Uber can also be including a “demand heat map,” which highlights areas the place extra riders are requesting journeys, and higher predictions of when drivers can count on a visit request. And for drivers who get irritated about dropping off a passenger in areas the place there’s much less demand, Uber is rolling out a “Back to Busy Area” filter. If a driver completes a visit in a quiet space, they will flip this on to assist filter journey requests again within the course of their alternative.
Whew! That’s lots of stuff. Peter Deng, Uber’s head of rider product, stated that the brand new app “becomes the canvas” as Uber seeks to develop its enterprise into new companies and features of income. Which means rewards applications, subscriptions, and different perks are going to be entrance and middle in Uber’s app sooner or later.
“We can help save you money,” Deng stated. “And we can help remove this paradox of choice of, ‘What do I do next?’”