Uber hits road with overhauled smartphone app
San Francisco (AFP) – Uber on Wednesday began rolling out an overhauled smartphone application that uses artificial intelligence in a bid to speed up and improve the ride-sharing experience.
The update is the first major overhaul for the popular application since 2012 and aims to simplify usage for a service that has added new travel options such as uberPool to share rides among several travelers.
“We rebuilt a faster, smarter rider app completely from the ground up,” Uber product manager Yuhki Yamashita said in a blog post.
After telling the app their destination, users can choose between uberX, UberBlack, and uberPool with estimated travel times provided as well as cost comparisons.
The overhauled app also synchronizes with other services, such as Pandora for streaming music, Yelp for business reviews, and transit schedules to catch trains or buses.
Uber says it sought to save users time by weaving in technology to coordinate appointments and anticipate trips.
The app kicks off by asking where users wants to go, with Uber planning to eventually let people answer with names businesses or of a friend, as well as with specific street addresses.
“We’ll soon be introducing a new feature we refer to as ‘people are the new places’ that enables you to set your destination to a person instead of a place,” Yamashita said.
“Just sync your contacts with the app, type their name into the search bar and once they’ve shared their location, you’ll be on your way.”
The app is designed to learn people’s travel patterns, such as taking children to school, or synchronize with agendas to make it quicker to get rides to appointments.
It will also suggest the best spots for passengers to be picked up by drivers.
Versions of the redesigned Uber app for smartphones powered by Apple or Android software will be rolled out globally during the next several weeks, according to Uber.
Since its debut in 2010, Uber has grown into a worldwide phenomenon despite regulatory hurdles and resistance from traditional taxi operators
In its latest funding round, Uber was valued at more than $60 billion, but has racked up losses at it expands and takes on competitors such as Lyft.