Uber has added a new feature to its app this month to support its deaf and hard of hearing drivers, a group the company says number in the thousands across its service. Uber says that these drivers have together completed millions of trips, and while it has added a number of features to its app over the years to provide additional support for those with hearing impairments, it’s going a step further with a new feature launching at the end of Deaf Awareness Month, which takes place in September.
The new feature will surface a card in the feed of the rider app when they’re paired up with a driver who is deaf or hard of hearing that will give them an option to learn some basic words and phrases in American Sign Language (ASL). The rider can select basic greeting like “Hello” and “Thank you,” or learn the letters to spell out their name so they can confirm it to the driver.
It’s a small thing, but a handy tool that could build on top of what Uber already does in-app for its hearing impaired drivers.
Taco Bell has, quite literally, found a new marketing vehicle, and its name is Lyft.
The fast-food chain is beginning a venture with the ride-sharing company this week that will allow Lyft passengers to request rides that incorporate a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m.
The companies will test the option, which will appear as “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app, during the next two weeks around a Newport Beach, Calif., location, with plans to expand the program nationally next year.
It’s an attempt to tap into the trend of young people increasingly car-pooling through apps like Lyft and its larger rival Uber, particularly on nights out with friends. While Taco Bell offers delivery to customers and advertises the locations of its restaurants through the navigation app Waze, partnering with a ride-sharing company represents a new type of “experience innovation,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer.
“I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” she said in an interview. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.”
As it stands, Lyft and Uber do not have stated policies about how drivers should handle passenger requests to swing by fast-food drive-throughs, though the question regularly pops up in online discussion forums for drivers.
“Several times I said no to food and they ask why and I explained what the last idiot did of making a mess and each time the present idiot would promise to not make a mess, spill, waste, etc. then they do it anyway!” one Uber driver wrote in an online forum.
Ms. Thalberg said her company had seen “a bunch of funny tweets” and other social media posts from hungry passengers on the topic, which got them thinking about a potential partnership with Lyft.
Taco Bell is not paying Lyft for the deal, which has been in the works for almost a year, Ms. Waters said. The companies are looking at the venture as “cocreating an experience together,” which cannot be evaluated the way one might look at traditional marketing efforts like television commercials and billboards, she said.
“Marketing today is so much about customer experience, not branding and advertising,” she said. “We’re really evaluating it from a surprise and delight for our consumer bases with a program like this and both meeting in the middle and developing it on both sides.”
Even while Uber has, for the time being, backed out of on-demand rickshaws, New Delhi-based startup Jugnoo confirmed this week that it is closed another round of fundraising to continue to help make India’s ubiquitous auto-rickshaw drivers more efficient while also meeting consumer transportation demands. The service launched in November 2014 and is currently operating in 22 cities and claims 2 million users, around 6,000 drivers and about 30,000 rides per day. The co-founder and CEO of Jugnoo, Samar Singla, told TechCrunch in an interview that he started the service when he realized that auto-rickshaw drivers are just 30 percent utilized. The goal is to drive utilization up to 60 percent.
Top priority for this year is to expand Jugnoo’s presence into an additional 25 cities in India, most of which will be second-tier.
Why It’s Hot
Uber failed at their initial attempt to enter the auto-rickshaw market with UberAUTO. They were unable to localize to the Indian market. India is Uber’s second largest market outside of the US, but it faces significant pressures from rivals such as Ola and Jugnoo.
The mobile messaging war continues to heat up, and Facebook Messenger is betting that its size will make it everyone’s all-in-one app.
The Menlo Park, Calif-based company announced a partnership with Uber today that lets users hail a black car from Facebook Messenger. The feature is rolling out in the U.S. with plans to expand internationally.
People can sign up for Uber and log in to their accounts from Facebook Messenger, which is tied to a credit card. Similar to the ride-sharing app’s design, people can track their drivers, receive real-time updates about when their cars will arrive and view receipts at the end of their trips.
Uber is the first company to partner with Facebook on transportation services, and the social network said it plans to work with additional businesses.
Facebook has steadily worked on building Messenger into a marketing app for brands over the past year. In March, a small group of retailers began testing the app as a tool forcustomer service, and users can also send money to their friends through chats.
The beefed-up features suggest Facebook is taking a page from other messaging apps like WeChat that have exploded in popularity internationally with e-commerce platforms.
Paris-based BlaBlaCar is a popular car-sharing service in Europe, but not well known or established elsewhere. What makes them interesting is that during sign-up they have a “chattiness” index that asks the user how chatty they are in a car. They are either “blah,” “blah blah,” or “blah, blah, blah.” They can also select their fellow riders based on whether they smoke or what music they listen to. What is interesting and ironic in many ways is that the backlash to “Uber” in France has been tremendous. Unlike Uber, BlaBlaCar does not have contract workers or employed drivers, but is more a carpooling app. Drivers simply charge their fellow riders a small fee for gas and drop them off along the way to their final destination. And because it is more ridesharing that a car service, it does not have to deal with the regulatory hurdles that have challenged Uber in Europe. The company is valued at $1.6B, making it the only startup in France estimated at more than $1B.
Why It’s Hot
While Uber and other services may not be able to gain an enduring foothold in Europe, home-made solutions such as BlaBlaCar may be successful. It shows the universal need to find alternate solutions from getting from point A to point B.
A new app is helping traditional taxi cab drivers catch up with the times. Arro is a smartphone app that works like Uber, but instead lets you hail a yellow or green taxi cab and pay for it with the touch of a button.
This isn’t the fist attempt at integrating e-hailing applications amongst traditional taxis, but no effort has yet garnered enough support to challenge Uber and Lyft. But while these ride sharing giants are known for surge prices, Arro promises to eliminate the threatens to eliminate the annoying charge—a move that threatens to undercut their competitors.
There are a few other reasons why a traditional taxi app hasn’t yet gained traction in the mobile market. City legislation has made it difficult for new players to enter the game, meanwhile taxi fleets are operating by a number of different payment platforms.
In New York City, Arro indicates a break in this trend. The startup has paired up with Creative Mobile Technologies, the operator of one of NYC taxis’ main platforms, and is currently in negotiations with Verifone Systems, the company behind the other. Now, taxi drivers who use the app will be able to receive payments (and get tips) through the screens that already sit in their dashboards.
Uber seems unstoppable these days, which has put a lot of pressure on traditional taxis to catch up with something big. Perhaps this will even the playing field — or essentially make pricing for cabs even more competitive for consumers.
In order to be an Uber driver, you need wheels. And the nicer wheels they are, the more likely you are to be well-rated and continue to getting business. Knowing this, Uber is beginning a pilot program called Xchange Leasing to offer drivers more flexible lease terms and hopefully increase its supply of drivers.
For a deposit of $250 and a higher monthly payment than typical lease, drivers can secure a lease on 2013 Toyota Corolla in a three-year lease. To coax drivers into the higher monthly costs, terms of the deal do not limit drivers to a mileage maximum. Drivers can also break the three-year term for a $250 penalty fee. Drivers will also have the option to buy the vehicle at the end of their lease term.
The pilot is currently running in California, Maryland and Georgia.
Why It’s Hot
Uber’s new pilot is an interesting approach to solving a major barrier to growth: its supply of drivers. It may not be an advantageous lease deal for everyone given the higher costs, but the added flexibility to “get out” could be an attractive way of getting over the trial burden for some would-be drivers and help the service expand into new markets quickly.
When you think of Uber, you think of getting a ride somewhere, but the company wants to broaden its horizons and Xiaomi is happy to help out. Xiaomi, one of the fastest growing smartphone manufacturers, has teamed up with Uber to deliver Mi Note smartphones in Singapore and Malaysia.
What’s even cooler is that ordering a phone is no different than requesting a ride. All one needs to do is open the Uber app on their current smartphone, select Xiaomi from the bottom slider, and orange colored Uber cars equipped with Mi Notes will appear. Just hit request, and your shiny new Mi Note will be delivered within a few minutes. The credit card tied to your Uber account will be charged for it.
Xiaomi’s deal with Uber appears to be part of the Uber Merchant Delivery Program, which is a pilot program in which Uber drivers and UberRush Couriers offer same day deliveries of goods for online shoppers. The program began testing a few months ago, and it was reported that many known brands like Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss were in talks with Uber.
Uber has just recently become a huge new source of reliable transportation. It offers accuracy and dependency in every Uber trip you may take. It gives you the ability to track your car and the ability of knowing how far away your car is. This is something that hadn’t happened before and when you compare taxis and trains to Uber you realize how much more productive and efficient it is.
Now, in addition, they have created a service that will deliver a newly bought cell phone straight to your front door. Therefore, not only is Uber there to give rides, but it has the capability of delivering items such as new cell phones and will soon be able to deliver much more. This is just the beginning of Uber’s future possibilities and other companies that will be able to thrive off of these innovative ideas.
Many drivers, including yours truly, depend on Waze to get to where they are going without unexpected delays. The Israeli company uses crowdsourced information from drivers to steer other drivers away from traffic, accidents, etc. Waze was purchased by Google in 2013 to help beef up the capabilities of the Google Maps platform that include turn-by-turn directions.
This week, Waze began testing its new RideWith ride-sharing app and service in Tel Aviv. The pilot program matches commuters who have similar rush-hour commutes so they can share rides and split the financial burden of traveling to and from work. If the pilot is successful, the service may launch in cities with a heavy suburban commuter population. These suburban commuters, who need a more regular car-sharing schedule, may find RideWith to be a useful alternative to Uber or Lyft that cater more to city residents that need a quick ride somewhere.
The app also calculates how much passengers should pay — a “pitch-in” cost based on gas and mileage and a “nominal” fee for using the app. Drivers are not paid for their services, per se.
RideWith service operated by Waze
Why It’s Hot
Waze has been hot for a while. So are Google Maps. For anyone who has used either of these apps (and they are integrated), they recognize how amazingly accurate they are. The Waze platform is inherently based on crowdsourcing, so it is a logical extension to include crowdsourcing to share available ride sharing to/from work. If the service does succeed and move out of pilot phase to a larger endeavor, it will provide provide another alternative to users who may be using Lyft or Uber.
TechCrunch spotted Uber testing a new feature with select users in San Francisco this week called “Suggested Pickup Points”, and it’s not just a clever name. The idea is that instead of requesting that Uber pick you up exactly where you are, Uber uses data from past pickups to suggest a location where they can collect you the quickest. It’s up to you to move the pin to where they’re suggesting, but when you do, they give you the exact address so you can meet your driver there.
Why It’s Hot
Well, first it’s nice to see Uber doing something positive besides providing the sheer utility of their service. But more importantly, they’re using data to provide a better service. Having data from past pickups means they’re obviously collecting said data on a daily basis, and while you may not always need an extra few minutes, who doesn’t want to get where they’re going as quickly as possible? Maybe not always in NYC, but for many people, part of what makes Uber appealing is that it saves time. Seems like this is a perfect way for them to deliver on that, and improve their customer experience using a simple data input. Nothing fancy, just smart, data-informed product design. Thumbs up emoji from this guy.
Uber came out with UberDrive, a game designed emulate the typical experience within the Uber app for Uber drivers using the regular Uber app (complete with accepting rides, choosing routes, surge pricing, etc). The app will be available in the iTunes store, although is primarily meant for those in the San Francisco area where they are testing the potential benefits of the app as a means of recruiting potential new employees.
Why its Hot
Not only can Uber benefit from some light-hearted publicity with the release of a game, in contrast to it’s string of some not-so-light-hearted publicity, (see here) but it also represents an innovate way to reach out to potential new employees. While it started as merely a passion project, nobody should discount Uber’s trend-setting potential with an idea like this.
On-demand private jet charter company Blue Star Jets has launched a mobile application to offer on-the-spot bookings with access to and from any airport in the world.
The company claims to have the first-ever global private jet app and to be a pioneer in offering 24/7 customer service providing follow-up confirmation within 15 minutes of booking so travelers can be in the air with as little as four hours notice. Blue Star Jets anticipates business to double as a result of launching the app.
The app enables users to search a favorite location or any global destination for round-trip, one-way and multi-leg flights. Users can access a full list of all available empty leg flights, which are either flying to or from their point of origin empty to pick up other charter clients.
Flyers can choose from a variety of options, including helicopters, turbo props, any corporate jet, an air ambulance, a cargo jet and a jumbo jet.
An Uber-like approach to jetting – really? Just because it woks for daily commute, does not mean that the same exact business model can be translated into other categories (or, perhaps, I am simply not their target audience!). Still, great to see how different categories are trying to innovate and push the boundaries of the unthinkable.
Two announcement this week about Uber expanding their territory:
1. UberEats has officially launched in four cities, including the Barcelona and Los Angeles trial areas as well as two new burgs, Chicago and New York City and that promises to deliver meals to customers in 10 minutes or less.
Uber drivers will go to certain approved restaurants, pick up several bags of a single kind of food — say a special sandwich, or a gourmet salad – and then deliver it to anyone who has requested it from an Uber app. Uber will offer a rotating menu of select items from a handful of restaurants in Chicago and New York and charges a flat delivery fee of $3 and $4, respectively, which goes directly to the drivers.
2. TechCrunch has uncovered documents revealing that Uber is currently testing a system where high-end retailers can use Uber vehicles to make same-day deliveries to impatient customers. According to the site’s sources, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton and Tiffany’s are all in discussions to sign up when the program launches. It looks as if the eventual goal is that all Uber drivers will be able to take both human passengers and commercial cargo, with all of the information routed through the same mobile app.
TechCrunch goes on to speculate that Uber could be aiming to create a rival to Amazon and eBay that leverages the fact that local stores have stock available on shelves. That way, prospective buyers can spot an item, order it and know that it’ll be transported across town in an instant.
Drunk driving accidents triple after midnight in Canada. To make the streets Uber safe, they set up a roadside kiosk in Toronto that functions as a breathalyzer. Those over the legal limit received a free Uber ride home. The stunt has been so successful that the company has mentioned that more machines may begin appearing in the drinking districts of other cities where Uber operates, although such a service would unlikely remain free for too long.
Why It’s Hot:
Consumers are intrigued by companies who use technology creatively and Uber is best-in-class for consistently delivering novel ideas that grab headlines.
The service works just like hailing any other kind of Uber vehicle (it’s much like the rickshaw service Ola runs too). Users open the app, select UberAuto from the options, and wait for a driver to confirm. Customers can hail autos even when there is no credit in their Paytm wallet — the payments service that Uber integrated in India — since the focus is on cash.
“When it comes to getting around Delhi, auto-rickshaws are a staple. We recognise the history and value of autos to the transportation landscape. For us, uberAUTO is another way of using technology to offer more choice, making life simpler and keep Delhi moving,” Uber said in a blog post.
This service is an interesting addition for a couple of reasons. Auto rickshaws are an important layer of the transportation ecosystem in India cities. Getting auto rickshaws on the Uber platform is a big win because it increases the reach and appeal of Uber’s service, encouraging more consumers to download its app.
Of course, once a new user has the app, there’s the possibility that they might, in time, ride with other types of Uber vehicles — which return higher margins for the company than a rickshaw. Additionally, cash-only fares will help extend Uber’s appeal to new demographics. From there, again, there’s the possibility that these new customers will, over time, use Uber’s more premium services.
When gunman took a cafe hostage in Sydney earlier this week, many took to Uber to flea the scene. But when riders booked up their apps to request a ride, many may have gotten more than they bargained for. Demand for rides was so high that the app, famous for its demand-driven pricing or “surging,” automatically began charging users minimum fares of $100 dollars!
When word spread of the shockingly high pricing, Uber came under fire (understandably). With a PR nightmare on its hands, Uber began to offer free rides to users during the siege and provided frequent updates through its regional Twitter handle, @Uber_Sydney. But not before significant damage was done to the brand.
Why It’s Hot
Supply and demand is a double edged sword. Though most of the time it can be advantageous, rare occasions like the Sydney Siege demonstrate the dangers of algorithmic pricing if left unchecked. Many have since called for caps on such pricing to create a ceiling that might protect against similar surges in the future. But what this case really shows is that companies who use such a surge model need to be proactively mining their user data to uncover patterns and thwart problems such as this before they start. Big data is enabling brands to be part of the solution, and it’s up to us as to what we begin to expect of brands armed with that power.
Uber riders can now blast tunes from Spotify during their commute. After hailing a car via the handy app, you can decide what music you’re in the mood for, and when the car arrives to pick you up, it’ll already be playing inside. You’ll need to connect that paid streaming account inside Uber’s mobile software to opt in, but doing so not only sets the music beforehand, but allows you to control it for the duration of the trip. The collaborative effort is set to launch on November 21st in London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm, Toronto and Sydney with a widespread rollout in the weeks that follow. Of course, the driver will need to connect their phone to the car’s stereo for you to take advantage, but Uber says those folks are excited about sorting your playlists. If the car you hail chooses not to play music, the option to play Spotify won’t show up in the Uber app.
Could Uber be more cool? They certainly are looking at their audience and developing pretty awesome initiatives, from partnerships with Starbucks and Amex, to stunts like UberWEDDING and UberKITTENS. In this case, it’s just a little more added value into an already sound pricing and convenience strategy.
In the most recent update of their mobile application, Starbucks integrated a specific Uber button, allowing customers to order a ride to their local coffee shop.
For the process to occur, the user simply clicks the button from within the Starbucks app and requests which store they want to visit. The Uber app launches and prompts a car request so both services’ software must be installed to the user’s phone. The integration makes it simple to hail a car for a coffee and lunch run simultaneously.
The entire process mimics the normal black car experience, except the end game leads you to a cup of coffee with your name on it. Users can get a caffeine hit at the tap of a button.
The integration stemmed as a result of Uber’s API launch for third-party developers. The startup opened its software platform to twelve high-profile partner companies such as United Airlines, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and TripAdvisor to include the on-demand transportation service into their own apps.
Why It’s Hot:
Uber seems to be taking over the world, and big brands now have an opportunity to create better experiences for their customers (while increasing business for Uber) by findings ways to creatively integrate the API. We are watching behavior change before our eyes.
This also goes back to our “laziness” discussion — why can’t you open Uber’s app and then go to Starbucks and order a coffee? I understand the utility for other travel brands and hotels to make a seamless experience from A to B, but this one seems a bit excessive.
Uber, the on-demand ride-share car service, might now be even more convenient as the company is testing an additional on-demand delivery service, Corner Store, in its Washington, D.C. market this week.
Why It’s Hot: The corner store now comes to you! Uber’s Corner Store is yet another technology/app designed to make our lives even easier and help us stay lazy. The company joins a growing list of on-demand delivery services, including Postmates (which brought those delicious doughnuts to Hot Sauce a few weeks ago!), Amazon, etc. in its new initiative.
Personally, I like to survey the store shelves and read the labels of whatever it is I’m buying, so this begs the question of whether there are some tasks that we should probably keep doing ourselves. That said, the luxury of sitting back and relaxing while sending a third party on our errands is undeniable – and perhaps a little bit creepy.
Today Uber is offering ice cream to be delivered to you through the app.
No matter where you are in the world, nothing captures the sweetness of a sunny afternoon better than ice cream. Friday, July 18th, we’re serving up cold treats on demand in 144 cities, in 38 countries, on 6 continents.
THE INSIDE SCOOP
Ice Cream will be available on Friday, July 18th.
To request, choose the Ice Cream option in the app. If a vehicle is available, you’ll be enjoying your desserts in minutes.
No cash needed—your order will be billed to your Uber account.
Demand will be very high and availability limited.
Be a part of the #UberIceCream community worldwide—share your refreshing experience on Twitter and Instagram!
Why It’s Hot
Uber is known for these unique offerings all the time. But it is time to really analyze how diverse they are making the brand, and how many new and exciting ideas they are using their core competency to build off of. Another aspect of this is the willingness to use mobile commerce to pay for minimal valued items. Also, it’s hot out so ice cream sounds good.
Uber reached an agreement with NY attorney general that would limit the cost an Uber driver can charge during emergencies.
Uber currently runs on a surge pricing model; the cost of rides increases during periods of high demand.The new agreement that was recently reached caps how high fare can reach during times of “abnormal disruptions of the market”– refering to citywide emergencies.
“Uber said the agreement was part of the company’s new nationwide policy of limiting surge pricing during emergencies. Fares may still rise higher than usual during an emergency, Uber said, but the increase will be restricted. Uber also said it planned to donate 20 percent of elevated fares charged during emergencies to the American Red Cross.” (Isaac)
Uber is a hot app that has been grabbing the attention of many. Uber was publicly critisized during Huricane Sandy when it applied surge pricing to many customers. Mr. Schneiderman wrote, “The abilitiy to pay truly exorbitant prices shouldn’t determine someone’s ability to get critical goods and services when theyre in short supply in an emergency.”
American Express announced a new partnership with Uber and a first-of-its-kind technology integration into the Uber iOS app that allows Card Members enrolled in the Membership Rewards program to choose to earn 2x points or use points for Uber rides. This is the first time that consumers can use loyalty reward points seamlessly in-app and in real time for on-demand transportation in this way.
Once a Card Member with an eligible Card on file with Uber downloads the latest version of the Uber iOS app, they will see a prompt to enroll their Card in the program – in just one tap. Once enrolled, eligible Card Members have a new in-app option to toggle between “Earn 2x Points” or “Use Points” for Uber rides. Card Members who choose to “Earn 2x Points” or “Use Points” will receive an on-screen ride summary and email receipt from Uber showing that 2x Membership Rewards points were earned or that points were redeemed.
American Express consistently shows foresight in their partnerships – teaming up with rising brands/services and solving for key Cardmember needs. In this case, the rising popularity of Uber (which just closed a new round of funding at a $18 billion-plus valuation, operates in 128 cities and 37 countries around the world and has considerable reach) coupled with the appeal of using MR point in everyday situations (point of sale) makes this partnership extremely on-point.
Last year,Amex allowing cardholders to use their points to pay for fares in VeriFone-enabled NYC taxi cabs. This move seems to be a reflection of the success of that endeavor, plus the success of other strategic partnership such with as Facebook and Twitter.
“Uber is at the forefront of evolving the way the world moves, and this integration with American Express – a company known for superior service and loyalty programs – helps make travel easier, more seamless and more rewarding for Uber users,” said Emil Michael, senior vice president, business at Uber. “This first-of-its-kind platform is the most recent way we are delivering more value more seamlessly to our customers.”
Mobile payments are nothing new and nothing unknown, but have you been paying attention to where they have been popping up? We all know that banks continue to try to give us the best “mobile wallet” options, but there are many apps that are making those mobile wallets obsolete. The fact is, apps are being created to update every process consumers encounter. Each of these processes have a form of payment, and have been integrated into the app in a way that we have broken a good size hole in the wall of trust. Consumers are trusting apps to own their payment information, rather than require information to be inputted and never saved. These apps range from leaders like Uber to start-ups like Tablelist. One trend that is very important for this mindset is SHARING payments on apps. Not only do consumers trust the app to own their payment info and use it, but they also trust the app to handle multiple payments for one charge. This further enables every process that requires a payment to be modernized and on a mobile device. Now I am writing this with a strong bias towards the upside of mobile payments, but I believe in the very near future there will a large increase in early adopters to this. Part of this is the fact that Millenials are starting to increase their disposable income and are ready to start spending it.
Why it’s Hot:
Anything that is shaping the future is hot. Again, the main point is not that this is emerging technology, but the behavior surrounding the innovations is disruptive. Brands will have to race to be on your phones for your purchase processes. Digital marketing will have an entire facelift with these considerations, including where the efforts will be pushing consumers for purchasing.