The Uber Driver App: Ways to Improve It

I've taken the start of this post from our sister site in the U.S. Their post was titled "3 ways to improve the Uber app".

I can't use the post as is for three reasons.

1. They mention things that are standard in the U.S. version of the Uber Partner App that we still don't have here! So already they become ways to improve the Uber Driver App here.

2. There are things they don't mention that I think could be improved, so I'm going to use this platform to request them.

3. They talk about Lyft, Uber's major competitor in the U.S. We really need to either see Lyft here in Australia or see one of the locals like SwyftRyd really take off.

What App Improvements Would You Like to See Uber Make?

Improve the Uber Driver/Partner App

While it’s not an increase in pay, a streamlined app with input from drivers could go a long way to improving the driver experience. Today, RSG contributor Jay Cradeur shares his perspective on Uber app improvements that would improve the driving experience, making it safer and and easier for drivers. Do you agree with these improvements or have suggestions of your own? Let us know in the comments!

Recently I shared improvements I would like to see in the Lyft app. I focused on Lyft first, primarily because I drive for them and am most familiar with the Lyft app. However, in order to give a balanced perspective, I’ve been driving solely for Uber. This actually has been a pretty good thing, with a weekly return of $1,451.86.

More...

Over the last few weeks, I’ve noticed there are some opportunities for Uber to improve its app, too. Here’s what Uber gets right, and wrong, in its app and how it could improve the app experience for drivers.

What Uber Gets Right

Uber Surge for Each Ride

Here is what I like: Uber shows me the surge for each ride, not just at the beginning when I accept the ride, but during the entirety of the ride.

I find this to be very useful information, as I can look during the trip and determine my earnings potential. Uber also provides more specific surge information before I accept a ride. If I am driving around, I can look at the heat map, zoom in and see exactly what the surge is for a specific area. I can use this data to inform my decision as to where I will drive next.

I also appreciate that I can easily cancel an individual passenger during an UberPOOL. If I am driving to the airport with 2 people, but they have filled my trunk with luggage, I can easily manage additional ride requests by going to Uber’s secondary page, and clicking Cancel.
This does affect my cancellation rate, but if I can’t fit the luggage in my car, then I really have no choice.

My Take

Wha...? We don't have any of this here. The only surge information we get is a colour based indication (not really a heat map) that an area is experiencing surge and an indication of the multiplier when a request comes in. As such requests are often overlapped with the current ride and I accept them without looking (to avoid taking my eyes off the road) being able to still see the surge rate after accepting would be really useful.

And we only see the surge when the ping comes in. It disappears as soon as we accept the ride. That seems such an obvious and easy thing to fix.

And of course we don't have UberPOOL at all. Don't think I want it though.

Uber Driver App Improvements

Here are the improvements that I'd like to see in the Uber Driver app in Australia:

1. Navigation that works properly all the time. I find that navigation usually works fine early in the morning. By the afternoon, when thing's get busier, it starts breaking down. It will show the first turn I should take and then stay on that display for the next 5 minutes or so. I either have to know where I'm going or stop and enter the destination into my car's built-in navigation. Also, the app will frequently switch between the current position and a previous one, so that both the display and the voice guidance will be telling me to turn into a street that is now 10 km away. It could be from this ride or a previous one.

2. Showing the rider's pickup address before I accept the ride. This is how it used to be when I first started Uber driving. Then they removed it. Every Uber driver wishes they hadn't. Lyft in the U.S. provide their drivers with this essential information but Uber doesn't. However, see our post A Useful Hack for the Uber Driver App.

3. Fast and consistent display of earnings. Again, when I first started driving for Uber in Queensland, this worked perfectly. Within a minute or two of completing the ride, it showed how much I'd earned for the ride and how much I'd earned today. Now it's all over the place. Sometimes nothing shows at all and sometimes it shows you've earned $0.00. Sometimes that eventually updates by itself and sometimes you have to tap it and then it says "calculating", after which it displays the earnings. If you tap the Earnings tag at the bottom of the screen to see how much you've made for the week, sometimes it includes the ride you've just calculated and sometimes not. And of course you're tempted to do all this while still driving. Uber, it's a mess.

4. Showing where I am in the airport queue. I do a lot of airport runs and it's a great feature that I'm automatically put into a queue with other Uber drivers at the airport. But why not show the position. Something simple would be fine, like 3/8 would mean I'm in position 3 in a queue of 8. I could then make an informed decision as to whether I should wait or leave.

Clearly, the software is in trouble. I believe Uber recognise this and so have decided to scrap it and redesign from the ground up. That's good news long-term, but introducing new software will bring its own set of new headaches. There's an old saying in I.T. "You can tell the pioneers. They're the ones with the arrows in their backs." Have a look at our post Uber is Releasing a New Driver App. I'm glad it's being released in the U.S. first.

What's Your Opinion?

We've just documented four of the improvements we'd like to see. Anyone who's done any rideshare driving will have their own set. Please share yours with us in the Comments below.

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Phil Lancaster

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