Uber rides now easily hailed within Facebook Messenger app

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Messenger app can now directly request your Uber or Lyft rides.

Facebook on Wednesday announced an alliance with Uber that lets people summon cars from the ride sharing service using the Messenger smartphone application.

The partnership, announced today (Dec. 16), will let Uber customers both order from the ride-sharing service and make a payment from within the Messenger app. The partnership was a major move for both California firms, further expanding Facebook’s stand-alone messaging service beyond simply communicating and putting Uber in a social network-backed application with some 700 million users. “With this new feature, you can request a ride from a car service without ever needing to download an extra app or leave a conversation,” product manager Seth Rosenberg said in a blog post. The new functionality is part of an ongoing effort at Facebook to encourage using Messenger for more than just conversations with friends: The company recently introduced a chat-based digital assistant called Facebook M that is largely intended, it seems, to help people make purchases on the platform. More countries and other transportation partners will be available soon,” a Facebook spokesperson told Quartz when asked about the Lyft integration. Neither Facebook nor Uber would describe the financial terms of the partnership, but Emil Michael, Uber’s SVP of business, explained to BuzzFeed News that the company wants to go deeper than just basic integration: What we’re trying to innovate on with Facebook is making transportation a social experience…

People can access the feature by tapping a “transportation” menu tab during text message exchanges or can enter Uber as a search query, according to Facebook. If this is your first time using Uber via Messenger, you will get your first ride for free (up to $20), according to the message we received from Uber once we connected our account. Facebook earlier this year began testing a Messenger app virtual assistant that the leading social network said goes beyond artificial intelligence programs already on the market. UberRUSH launch in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco in October with a mission to “get customers pretty much anything in minutes,” according to a post at the company’s website. With a valuation that has reportedly climbed to $64 billion based on private funding rounds, Uber has become the most precious Internet industry “unicorn” — a reference to startups that remain private despite being valued at more than a billion dollars.

Uber’s ridesharing service has made it one of the world’s largest startups, operating in dozens of countries, but it has faced regulatory hurdles in many areas and protests from established taxi operators. Transportation — and other on-demand services including delivery — are core functions for Uber, the hot-ticket startup that remains privately held despite a valuation of more than $60 billion ©Justin Sullivan (Getty/AFP/File) In the US, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat added the ability to send money to friends over the last year. “Facebook Messenger had already started to add businesses and brands into the Messenger experience and let users interact with those businesses,”Aunkur Arya, VP & GM, Mobile at Braintree told Quartz. “They haven’t directly added commerce, but they already started down this line and creating this new experience for business and consumers.

Why this matters: Facebook Messenger seems to be following the footsteps of Asian messaging apps like WeChat, Line, and KakaoTalk, which integrate a bunch of services—from games to e-commerce—to become a vital part of everyday life for mobile users. This [new feature] is just a natural extension of that.” Facebook Messenger head David Marcus, who was previously the president of PayPal, has been focusing on turning Messenger into a portal that lets consumers and businesses connect, interact, and, eventually, carry our transactions. The first step was opening up Facebook Messenger to developers—at the annual F8 conference, Messenger announced content integrations with companies including Giphy, and that businesses like Everlane would field customer service issues through Messenger.

That’s the reason Facebook spun off its Messenger service into its own app to begin with, because the flagship Facebook app was getting too bloated. Ayra says the partnership between Uber and Facebook Messenger is “the best example” of using everyday interactions and conversations to drive commerce. “You have one super high-frequency use case, Uber, inside of another high-frequency app, Facebook Messenger.

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