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Uber overhauls app design, simplifying interface and integrating Uber Eats

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Uber has launched a pared-back redesign of its app, which hinges on merging its ride-hailing and food delivery services. The refresh, led by its in-house design team, has been designed to encourage users to think of the app as “the operating system for your everyday life”, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at the US launch yesterday (26 September).

The redesign has simplified parts of the Uber look and feel, as well as integrating more services. Previously users of the app were greeted with a map when they first opened Uber, accompanied by a search bar asking users where they’d like to go. The new design takes a step back: the first port of call is a minimal grid showing the range of services Uber offers. Users can click on “Get a ride” (illustrated with a car icon) or “Order food”, which is accompanied by a bowl of ramen. Early design mockups shown to Fast Company demonstrate how the new interface design allows for the addition of more services as the app develops, including grocery delivery or helicopter rides.

“The real challenge was finding a way to avoid the app becoming cluttered, hard to navigate, and cumbersome if multiple services were ‘colliding’ with each other,” Uber designer Joost Van der Ree told Fast Company. “A map with cars on it communicates that Uber is a service for getting a ride, but we’re moving far beyond just rides.”

Uber is using the redesign as an opportunity to test the app, with some users seeing the grid design on opening and others a simplified map. In some cities, including London, Uber will introduce a new Transit feature, which shows users public transport options for their journey. The idea is that customers will eventually use the Uber app to navigate their way through the city, as opposed to something like Google Maps or Citymapper. “To some extent, we’re competing against ourselves,” Khosrowshahi told The Verge. “But we have the philosophy that if there’s a better product out there for the user, and we think an integrated movement solution is better for the user, we should be the ones competing against ourselves versus others doing it.”

Other changes to the app include the option to turn on new Pin verification system (where users have to say their pin out loud in the car before the driver can begin the ride) to stop customers getting into the wrong car. For drivers the new app features a “demand heat map” which shows areas where lots of people are ordering rides and a “Back to Busy Area” filter which helps guide drivers into areas of high demand if a journey has taken them out on a limb.

The announcement comes following a rather stressful few months for Uber, reporting $5.2billion losses in the last quarter. In addition, new legislation in California passed earlier this month now requires companies like Uber and Lyft to treat workers as employees (with accompanying rights), an unprecedented move that will reshape the gig economy in the state.