uber new features

Uber announced multiple new features at its annual Get-go event in New York today including the optionality to book a cab without the app. Here are the key takeaways from the event which is being held in person for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Users based in the US can dial a toll-free number 1-833-USE-UBER (1-833-873-8237) to request a ride. The person would be directed to an agent who would help book the cab.

Notably, the company tried its hand with ride-hailing through a phone call previously also but halted the pilot amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program was then available only in select markets but Uber is now widening its reach.

After the customer requests a ride by calling the number, the company would share the ride details – including the vehicle and driver details – as well as the estimated time of arrival.

The customer would receive another message when the driver arrives at the location.

The feature might appeal to those who otherwise might not be comfortable using the app.

Meanwhile, Uber announced several other features including the option to book a ride with a car seat for kids weighing up to 65 lbs.

Uber has partnered with car seat company Nuna for the service which would be initially available in only Los Angeles and New York City – but it intends to expand the service to other cities gradually.

Key Announcements from Uber Get-go Event

Another key announcement that Uber made at the event was about accounts for teens and beginning May 22 those between 13 and 17 can create their own accounts which would however be linked to a parent or guardian account.

The service would initially be available in 22 cities only.

Sachin Kansal, vice president for products at Uber said “Our approach here is to solve a problem that is unsolved, that is a massive pain point in our users’ lives, both the guardians as well as the teens.”

Uber would also give drivers the option to opt out of accepting teen riders. Notably, the company tried the feature in 2017 also but back then it did not notify drivers about underage riders

The program did not make much headway then and Uber is now using the learnings from the failed pilot to make the proposition better this time around and said only experienced and “highly rated” drivers would be offered the teen rides.

Now Book a Boat on the App

Uber already offers boat rides in London and now it is launching a charted boat service in Mykonos, Greece. Like other new features that it announced, it intends to expand the charted boat service to other locations also.

The company also announced that users can now build group grocery orders through Uber Eats – a service that might appeal to family members and roommates.

Also, customers would be able to send a personalized in-app video message when they send a monetary gift card through Uber Eats. The company would later expand the feature to deliveries as well.

Notably, Uber stock is up over 50% this year while US rival Lyft is down 25%. Lyft’s earnings have disappointed markets even as Uber has impressed with both its operating and financial performance.

During the Q1 2023 earnings call, Uber Dara Khosrowshahi said the company is off to a “strong start” and is targeting operating profits this year.

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