Tech Crunch reports how Uber’s driver-facing app is getting big changes to its navigation experience, something Uber is doing to try to help make it easier for drivers to do their job without having to worry too much about switching apps or trusting navigations software designed primarily for consumer use.
The new Uber navigation experience is an upgrade from what was available in the iOS driver app previously, and a completely new addition to the Android version of their mobile software. Uber previously relied exclusively on external routing apps including Google Maps and Waze on Android, offering a “Navigate” button that would pop drivers out directly into their third-party app of choice.
Uber’s Maps product team lead Manik Gupta and driver app senior product manager Maya Choksi told Tech Crunch in an interview that the whole project is designed to help improve service in general, offering better routing from point A to point B during a trip, but also improved pickups, drop-offs, and, perhaps most importantly, improved driver experience.
“The goal for the new navigation experience is to provide drivers with the optimal driving experience for Uber specifically,” Choksi explained. “Previously we had a hacked together experience, using a combination of APIs to provide in-app navigation.”
“You want to make sure you have all the information, when you need it, in context,” explained Gupta. Uber’s goal overall was not to fully replace navigation apps if drivers prefer to still use other provider software, but to ensure that if they do remain within the app, they’re well-served with what’s on offer, thanks to features including different interface options designed to be extra easy on the eyes over many hours of nighttime driving.
That’s not to say what Uber is launching is perfect; far from it, says Gupta. They’re very aware that this is a first release for a product that will require a lot more development, he says, and they’ll be gathering feedback from drivers to iterate. Drivers, incidentally, were involved in the product’s initial creation – Uber says that five were brought in for early product design meetings with engineers, and Uber later beta tested with drivers first for very early development with engineers riding shotgun and making changes on the fly, then in larger geographic tests to make sure that the app met the needs of Uber’s global driver customer base. wf