As soon as today, your Uber app might start asking for an update. That's not all it's asking for: Uber wants more information than ever before on your comings and goings, even requesting access to your contacts and calendar.
The update to Uber's rider app is the biggest since a redesign in 2012, as the company writes to its blog. There, it also acknowledges that "our app has become complicated and harder to navigate." The new, hopefully improved app will add useful information like expected arrival time, fare estimates, and even "shortcuts," or suggested routes based on those you've frequently taken.
Other changes sound like larks and fall into a category called "Uber Feed." Those include a Yelp integration so you can see the menu at the restaurant you're headed to from within the Uber app. There's a Snapchat integration: Take a selfie and send it to a friend along with your ETA. (Yes, of course there are exclusive Snapchat filters for Uber, what do you think this is?) Users of the new app, we're told, will be able to change music in their Uber through a Pandora integration. But despite Uber's admission that its app has become bloated, that problem doesn't sound like it's been altogether solved. This Uber Feed, in fact, sounds like what the Verge meant when, after playing with the redesigned app, that tech publication noted plenty of clutter.
Speaking of that friend to whom you sent a cool exclusive Uber filtered Snap: What if you could meet them wherever they were, treating your contacts like destinations regardless of their location (home, work etc.). That's one of the new opt-in services that, depending on your feelings about Uber, technological surveillance, and hacking, might make your skin crawl. Fortunately, the contact whose whereabouts you and Uber would like to know needs to also opt-in for that feature to work. According to the Associated Press, requests for contact access won't start until December. However, Uber is expected to ask for access to your calendar as soon as next month. Why's that?
"We want to know what you want before you want it, so we can deliver a more elegant, more streamlined experience,” Uber Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick told media including BuzzFeed while unveiling the changes. “Let’s say you normally go home from work at 7 p.m, and you open up the app at 7 p.m. We wanted to give you a button to quickly push that just takes you home.”
Personally, I don't want to push a button, I'd rather just click my heels together.