Big changes are coming to Uber’s driver-facing app. The changes are mainly to its navigation experience and this is something that Uber has taken on to make it easier for their drivers to do their job and not worry about switching navigation apps that are mainly designed for the average consumer.
This navigation experience is an upgrade from the old iOS driver app. It’s also a completely new addition to the old Android version of their mobile software. In the past, Uber was heavily reliant on external apps like Google Maps and Waze which is the Android version. These offered the driver a navigate button that would bring up their third party app of their choice.
Manik Gupta (Uber’s Maps product team leader) and driver app senior product manager Maya Choksi believe that the whole idea of the project is to offer a better routing system for drivers to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible. It is also designed to improve their pick-ups and drop-offs. But, probably most importantly, it is designed to improve their drivers experience with the necessary navigation app. Because their previous ‘apps’ were hacked together from other developers API’s, there was no way to integrate them all into one seamless interface. What this meant for their drivers was a lack of control over the navigation experience. For example, Uber didn’t have control over label display sizes, for things like street number, street names nor could they hide the ones they didn’t need. This meant that the lack of customisation for each driver was an issue as each has his or her own specific needs and wants with a navigation app.
Another factor they considered when developing this app is the viewing distance from their eyes to the phone. They found that most drivers have their phone mounted somewhere at about three feet from their face. With this in mind, they designed the UI to be viewed from a distance. They also made it easy for drivers to view Uber pick up points at airports and identifying places such as specific Uber parking spots at various restaurants. This is particularly useful for Uber delivery drivers.
Another useful feature is many different interface options and one particularly designed to be easy on the eyes over the long hours of a nighttime shift.
However, the launch wasn’t as perfect as they hoped. There are always many development issues and tweaks to be done even once a product has been released. They gathered a lot of feedback, good and bad, from the drivers and then the tech guys and developmental engineers got busy and implemented the useful ideas and suggestions.
This new Uber navigation system is not meant to take on the likes of Google or anyone else as they are still heavily reliant on them for data. But, it’s an attempt to create the best possible, customisable app specifically for their drivers.
Unfortunately, Uber has a lot on their plate other than just finding efficient ways for navigation. They still have drama within their executive ranks, the harassment issues said to be part of their culture, as well as a lawsuit from their archrivals at Waymo. Let’s hope they can keep the pedal to the metal when it comes to developing new products for their drivers so ultimately, the benefits of a happy driver flow onto us – the Uber traveling community.