I actually got an invite to sit down one on one with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi at an event in Los Angeles today for a moderated Q&A panel with over 200 drivers in the audience. The session wasn’t recorded but stay tuned for my blog post on Friday to learn about what I asked him!
Over the past week, Uber has been peppering drivers with cryptic messages about a global announcement that Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi would be making on Tuesday morning. Since it was a ‘global announcement’, I wasn’t sure exactly what would be revealed, but now we know that Uber is releasing a brand new driver app for 2018. It will take a few months to roll out the app to everyone, but Android users in Los Angeles and Atlanta will get to try it out first.
I was a little surprised that there was so much hoopla over this announcement and, while I didn’t expect a huge rate increase, or an axing of UberPOOL :), I suspect some drivers will be disappointed. As you’ll see below, the new app looks great and will make driving and absorbing lots of information while driving easier, but I haven’t heard too many complaints about the old Uber driver app relative to big pain points like low pay and upfront pricing.
I think the new driver app may have a bigger impact outside of the US, where many drivers are using older Android phones and experiencing poor reception, but I don’t see it improving a driver’s bottom line here in the US anytime soon.
To Uber’s credit, they worked with 470 drivers worldwide to beta test the new app and solicit feedback through in-person group lunches, ride-alongs and one-on-one text message exchanges. And overall, all of that driver input shows. I like the look of the new app and think it does a good job of sharing the most pertinent information but not overwhelming you like the old app sometimes would do.
Uber built some strong momentum with drivers in 2017 with the ‘180 Days of Change’ and is continuing in the right direction with a new driver app, but I think the big question drivers will be asking is, could their resources have been better spent somewhere else, like increasing rates?
The New Uber Driver App 2018
Here’s an excerpt from Dara’s blog post about the main features they added to the new driver app:
At the top of the screen sits a new real-time Earnings Tracker. It lets drivers know—at a glance—how much they earned on their last trip, and makes it easy to track progress toward their goals.
The new Status Bar provides real-time updates on market conditions around them and opportunities for more trips nearby. When a driver taps an opportunity, the app will provide optional navigation to the recommended area.
The Notifications feature lets drivers see messages about upcoming earning opportunities, feedback from their riders, and information about their account.
The Driver Profile gives drivers the opportunity to showcase themselves, and allows riders to learn more about their driver and find new ways to connect.
I’ve driven with the new app myself, so I know the experience can be a bit intimidating一whether it’s your first trip or your 100th. We set out to make things a little smoother with Driver App Basics, a comprehensive guide to getting started with Uber that will be available to drivers in the coming months.
Real-time Earnings Tracker
Lyft has had a version of this for a while now, and it’s one of the features I’ve loved since drivers care a lot about their earnings! It’s nice to see your total earnings for your shift right there on the home screen and be able to quickly check your last ride to see if that passenger you helped with their bags tipped you (nope they didn’t lol) without having to scroll over to the earnings tab.
You can see from the old screen below that Uber used to show your earnings some of the time, but you had to scroll down a little in the feed to see it.
Uber will now give drivers the ability to see three different view options: daily earnings total, weekly earnings total and Quest incentives. Uber’s Quest bonuses have become a big part of rideshare driving in major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles, so I really like that you have the option of switching the carousel to your Quest Bonus and leaving it there, since that’s the most important thing to you while you’re on a Quest Bonus (if you follow our Quest strategy, you know that you actually want a bunch of short trips while on a Quest).
This re-design also tells me that Quest (and maybe even Earnings Boost) are here to stay.
I like the idea of getting real-time information from Uber on when/where to drive, but I’m not sure yet what type of information Uber can give drivers that will be super valuable. Drivers want to work as little as possible and make as much money as possible, whereas Uber is usually trying to maximize a driver’s efficiency. That’s why I think third party apps like FarePilot are best suited to provide additional information to drivers since their incentives are perfectly aligned with a driver’s incentives – make more money!
The example Uber shared below notifies a driver that they should go to a boost zone to get more rides/make more money, duh! But the problem with directing drivers to areas of higher demand in general is that we’re not sure who gets these notifications. I’d love to see veteran or more valued drivers get rewarded, but as we highlighted recently, this isn’t something that either Uber or Lyft tends to do.
Uber’s surge maps already have this effect with lots of new drivers immediately gravitating towards surge zones, but as more and more show-up, surge and demand disappears. That’s why we tell new drivers not to chase the surge! The quality of information matters and knowing who gets it could make a big difference in earnings.
The feed on the Uber driver app contains a lot of helpful information, but there was never a way to access old messages or control what showed up at the top. Notifications operates a lot more like an inbox, so you should have a record of every notification and once you read them, they’ll get marked as read. This is a simple design that makes sense for drivers.
This was available in the prior version of the app and while it’s a cool feature, it’s not something that many passengers ever bring up – but they do look at it.
Pro-Tip: Ask your passenger an open ended question in your profile. This will encourage unique conversation AND ensure they do most of the talking during the ride (while you focus on driving). Also, these people might just be more likely to tip.
Driver App Basics
We don’t have a ton of information about this part of the app yet but from what I saw, it looks helpful. Uber’s training and education in general has been lacking over the years, and it’s part of the reason why so many people have taken a liking to our content.
So even though this library may cut into some of my business, I’m glad that Uber is taking their training and resources for drivers more seriously with simple to read walk throughs and explanations and short videos that cover topics like ‘how driver destinations work’. Maybe they should ask me for some tips? 🙂
New Surge Maps
You may have noticed that surge looks a little different on the new app and a lot more aesthetically pleasing. Instead of the old hexagons, surge is now smoothly integrated into the map and you can actually see the roads and street names. Here’s what surge used to look like:
We’ll have more on this in the coming weeks – let us know if you see the roll out on your Uber driver app in the comments below.
–Harry @ RSG
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