I love meeting experts on topics that can help folks have a better travel experience.
That’s why I’m thrilled to have recently met Harry The RideShare Guy at FinCon 2016 in San Diego. He’s been blogging about rideshare companies like Uber, Lyft, and other services since 2014. He shares terrific tips and offers fantastic resources for rideshare passengers and drivers!
And our meeting was great timing! Because Uber just completely revamped their app. So I thought I’d let him tell you about it!
Harry The RideShare Guy: Thanks, Daraius! Uber has rolled out a huge update for its passenger app.
The new app is cleaner, sleeker, and much more user-friendly. But it’s not just the interface that’s changed. There are several new features.
I’ll show you how the new app changes impact you as a passenger, whether you’re headed home from the airport, or going out on a new adventure.
What’s Changed With the New Uber App
Link: Uber App
The Uber app update is currently available to folks with iPhone devices. It hasn’t been rolled out for Android users, yet.
1. New & Simple Interface
The first thing you’ll notice about the updated Uber passenger app is the simplicity.
The task of requesting an Uber now begins with a simple question: “Where to?”
The new interface also encourages users to save their home and work addresses for easy access. This is a good idea for frequent users who would rather not have to type in their address after every night on the town. Although this isn’t a new feature, setting a saved address as your destination is now more intuitive.
If you’re traveling, saved destinations can be super helpful.
Tip: When you arrive in a new city, I’d recommend saving the address of your hotel – that way you won’t need to look it up each time you need to get back there.
And it’s also easier for your Uber driver to find you if you type in an exact address as opposed to using the ‘drop a pin’ method.
Auto-Suggestions for Destinations
Uber also keeps a history when you take a ride. This isn’t new. Uber has always kept detailed records for each user.
But now the app will suggest destinations that you travel to frequently. Though convenient, some users are left wondering what Uber really does with all that data. The answer? Probably advertising (more on that later).
Clearer Choices, Less Clutter
Prior to the update, the Uber type selection slider at the bottom of the app was a bit cluttered. This was especially true in cities with lots of different types of Uber cars available.
Now, the options are subdivided into level of service categories, making them easier to find and understand. For example, you might see:
- Economy (UberPool and UberX)
- Premium (UberSelect, UberBlack, and UberLux)
- Extra Seats (UberXL and UberSUV)
- More (UberEspanol and UberAssist)
This change is a much-needed improvement. The update also lets passengers clearly see their Estimated Time of Arrival and fare estimates compared across the different ride types available in their area.
2. Uber Feed
Uber Feed is just like UberEATS, but for livestock! Okay, I’m kidding (although if there are any folks from Uber corporate reading this, I want credit for that concept).
Uber Feed is brand new and has been described as Uber’s new “in-flight entertainment.” Uber Feed displays information based on your destination. There’s also radio from Pandora and Spotify. And eventually, there will be advertising.
But that’s not all. If you’re headed home for the night, you can now schedule an UberEATS restaurant order to be delivered once you arrive. The app will even figure out exactly how long you’ll have to wait for the food once you’ve returned.
Match Your Uber Ride to the Train
There’s plenty more to come with this Uber Feed feature. Uber plans on integrating with public transit. So when you’re headed to a train station, you’ll be able to view the train schedule in your feed.
Or if you’re going to a restaurant, you’ll be able to find Yelp reviewers’ favorite dishes.
And of course, they’ve added a Snapchat filter that includes your Estimated Time of Arrival so you can snap it to your friends!
Potential Upgrades for Uber Feed
I think there’s plenty of room for expansion, too. Late for the game? You might find the score in your feed. Catching a flight? The feed will likely be able to notify you of rescheduling.
These features are speculative, but I think there are many ways Uber can expand on this concept to maximize its usefulness.
I expect the Uber Feed will be especially useful to out-of-state travelers who might be unfamiliar with an area. Uber Feed will likely allow them to get a better sense for the local area through informational tidbits, Yelp reviews, and targeted advertising.
What Hasn’t Changed in the Updated App
Some parts of the Uber app are still the same. And for some rideshare passengers, these are the not-so-good features of Uber.
1. Opaque Surge Pricing
Uber has always done its best to hide surge pricing from riders – and with good reason. Who wants to pay more for the same trip?
The new app doesn’t change that. Instead of seeing a bold marker, you’ll instead find a small note under a fare estimate with a note that “fares are higher due to increased demand.”
How much higher? There’s no way to know, unless you compare it to a third party Uber fare estimator.
Many passengers ask me how to avoid surge pricing. First, watch carefully for the note by each fare estimate.
Second, keep in mind surge pricing isn’t just a function of driver availability. It’s also a function of passenger demand.
If prices are surging, the good news is that the increased prices are usually short-lived. You can try to beat the surge by waiting it out or walking a few blocks to get another estimate. In most cases, you’ll find the fare goes down after 15 or 20 minutes.
But this might not be the case immediately after concerts, games, or other big events. Because these surge areas tend to be large and last awhile. So plan accordingly if you need a ride.
If all else fails and the surge just keeps coming, try requesting a Lyft. Lyft’s surge equivalent, Prime Time, typically kicks in far less frequently and for shorter periods.
2. Upfront Pricing
Uber’s upfront pricing has already been the subject of many complaints. And unfortunately it’s still with us in this new update.
Daraius shared news about my recent analysis regarding Uber fare discrepancies for riders and drivers.
In some markets, Uber will calculate a fare for you using your stated destination and a mysterious algorithm – and that will be the final price, no matter how long it actually takes, or how many detours your driver takes you on.
Driving for Uber
If you’ve ever considered driving for Uber, I’d highly recommend it. In fact, I quit my job as an engineer to drive for rideshare platforms and blog about it!
If you’re a frequent Uber user, becoming a driver is easier than you might think. In fact, my #1 tip for new drivers is to take a ride as a passenger to find out what works and what doesn’t. So if you travel a lot using Uber, you’re already ahead of the game.
Plus, driving for Uber is a great way to save some extra cash for travel and dining when those reward points won’t quite cut it. You can read all about driving for Uber – including how to earn the highest sign-up bonus available – over on my blog, The Rideshare Guy.
For passengers, I think the new app offers an improved experience.
The new Uber Feed feature is a great resource for out-of-town travelers. And saved destinations and easy-to-understand price tiers make for easier rides. For example, you can easily see the difference in price between an UberX and UberBlack fare before requesting a ride.
If you’re new to Uber, you can sign-up with Emily’s link to save up to $20 off your first ride.
And if you’re interested in driving for Uber to make extra money, you can find great resources and tips from The Rideshare Guy.