The rollout of Uber’s redesigned app starts on Wednesday.
Uber is rolling out a revamped version of its rider app with added functionality that uses information like rider destinations, calendar events and typical rider behavior to create a more seamless user experience.
Though app redesigns are often just about aesthetics, Uber’s effort takes advantage of user data to enable alternative functions like driving to a friend’s location or finding a restaurant that will deliver food into your hands by the time you get there.
In other words, the system is much more intuitive than it once was.
Starting today, Uber will immediately prompt a rider to enter their destination. In older versions of the product, riders weren’t required to input their destinations at all, unless they were using UberPool.
Then, the app will use the rider’s past behavior to suggest a number of destinations — which Uber calls “shortcuts” — to go to at that time of day. For example, Uber will suggest the nearest subway station as a destination at 7 am if a rider typically takes an Uber to that station at that time.
Riders will also then be shown how much each service — whether it’s UberX, UberPool or UberBlack — will cost and what the estimated time of arrival will be. The services are separated into a number of different categories like economy for Uber Pool and Uber X.
The company is also integrating with a number of other apps that will make getting to your next location much more seamless. For instance, it can link to a passenger’s calendar app so that addresses included in any “event” will automatically appear as destination “shortcuts.”
Riders will also be able to choose another person’s location as a destination. If Uber is synced with your contacts, you can choose a friend to drive to. If they are also Uber riders, they will be prompted with a push notification, which they then have to accept. If the person doesn’t have the Uber app, they will receive a text message instead of a push notification. In either case, the driver will be automatically directed to that person’s location.
The app is also using data from UberEats to show riders which restaurants will deliver to their homes or destinations by the time or soon after they arrive.
It will also work closely with Yelp (so riders who choose a restaurant as a destination can automatically see reviews and ratings) and Snapchat (to send filtered pictures with rider ETAs).
The refurbished functionality of the Uber app is meant to create a more automated system. It also paints a picture of what Uber’s future network of self-driving cars might look like. As the company continues on its path to make transportation as much a utility as running water, automation is key.
Imagine a world where your app knows when you have to leave to get to your meeting and automatically hails an Uber at that time. You open your door and boom, a self-driving car is at your door.
Alternatively, if you take an Uber at the same time to the same destination every day, it’s possible that Uber’s self-driving cars could, one day, automatically show up at your door precisely when you need them.
For now, the app won’t automatically hail your car unless you schedule the ride, but the possibilities are interesting.