Since it’s Thanksgiving week and I’m drowning in files and (soon-to-be) mashed potatoes and gravy, I figure I’ll do a quick little blurb (with quite possibly the most confusing prepositional title ever) about one of my favorite innovations that the smartphone has helped bring about: Uber.
For all of you who use Uber I’m sure you can attest to how fantastic it is. For those of you who don’t: Uber is a modern taxi service that allows you hail a ‘car,’ pay, and rate your experience completely through your smart phone. Rather than having to call a cab company, you pull up your smart phone, request a car, and then wait for the car to pick you up.
The cool thing about this feature is that you can actually see the path the car takes to your location (in the form of an adorable little black car icon); each Uber car is tracked through the car’s GPS so you don’t have to guesstimate when the car will arrive.
Before you confirm a ride, you will also receive a projected fare based on your current location and proposed destination:
Once you’ve been picked up and dropped off, you simply pay your fare on your phone. You link your credit/debit card to the Uber program and then click a button and pay. You don’t have to worry about fumbling around for money or tipping. Everything (including the tip) is included in the lump sum that you are quoted. I’ve actually found that Uber is an incredibly competitive alternative to taxis in regards to how much it costs.
Now, technically, Uber doesn’t do anything that a conventional cab company doesn’t do; what it does for the industry, however, is provide an unprecedented level of convenience. Uber allows you to instantly request cars, pay fares digitally, split the cost with multiple people, and leave immediate feedback regarding your trip and the driver.
That last point is why Uber is such a fantastic innovation; the people who are driving you around are generally normal people who have been approved through Uber’s (very extensive) screening process and are doing this in their free time because they want to. If an Uber driver received below a certain rating, they are not asked to continue in the Uber program anymore. Therefore, there is a sense of obligation to provide a friendly and enjoyable Uber experience. Even outside of this obligatory sense of duty, all of my experiences with Uber (and I use it A LOT) have been positive. The people who do this get paid well, do this whenever they want, and can stop whenever they are done driving.
There you have it, friends. If you find yourself scarfing down too much Turkey come Thursday, feel free to use this knowledge to hail an Uber car to take you around–since you’ll probably too hopped up on tryptophan to operate a motor vehicle. Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you all in two weeks!