Bengaluru: Ride-hailing service Uber Inc; has rolled out a redesigned app for commuters with an eye on personalising travel, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
Founded in 2009, Uber, the world’s most valuable start-up at $68 billion, last redesigned its app in 2012.
“Since our last redesign in 2012, our app has become complicated and harder to navigate. To recapture the clean and simple aesthetic of the original Uber experience—without sacrificing the choice our riders now expect—we rebuilt a faster, smarter rider app completely from the ground up. Gone are the days when everyone’s app looks the same. The new Uber experience is reimagined around a simple question—“Where to?” Yuhki Yamashita, senior product manager at Uber wrote in the blog post.
For frequent users of Uber, the new app will throw up shortcuts that predicts destination of a rider. Uber will also allow consumers to sync their calendar with Uber, which will in turn show destinations for meetings and appointments as shortcuts. This apart, Uber will allow commuters sync their phone contact with the app, which will enable them type the contact’s name instead of the destination while booking a cab.
The new app will also allow users compare prices of different Uber services for a particular destination before taking a ride, apart from showing an expected time of arrival at the destination for UberPOOL and UberX rides, two of its cheapest and most widely-used offerings.
The new app has been rolled out to about 1% of its users globally, including India, an Uber India spokesperson said.
The company will also roll out additional features in the days to come through tie-ups with third-party service providers.
“Soon, we’ll offer more experiences tailored around where you’re going. Using Uber to get to the station? Check Transit to see upcoming departures for the train, bus, and subway. Headed somewhere delicious? Browse Yelp reviews right from the app. Exploring a new neighborhood? Use Foursquare for tips on what to do and where to go next. On your way to friends? Play with exclusive Snapchat filters or stream your favorite songs on Pandora to get you in the mood. And if UberEATS is in your city, order food on the way home so you and your burrito can arrive together,” the post said.
However, Uber is yet to launch UberEATS in India.
Uber, which recently sold off its China business to Didi Chuxing, is now focused on trumping homegrown rival Ola in India, which is possibly the last big frontier to conquer in Asia. The country of 277 million Internet users, which barely registered as a blip in the global market for cab aggregators (in terms of rides) in the first quarter of 2014, grew into the third biggest market after China and North America in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Internet Trends-2016 report by Mary Meeker, partner at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.
Both Ola and Uber have been engaged in a price war to attract new customers as well as eat into their rival’s customer base, which has turned out to be a drain on their pockets, especially at a time when investors have become cautious about their bets. According to industry experts, an enhanced service and ease of using the app is a more sustainable way of attracting new users and retaining existing ones, instead of offering rides at dirt cheap rates.
Meanwhile, both Ola and Uber has enabled offline booking of cabs through SMS in the last two months in an attempt to facilitate cab booking in areas with low internet connectivity.