Uber Not So Uber
Updated: Jul 5, 2019
Behind the wheel of my '07 Honda Civic, tapping along to the beat of Anne-Marie's catchy reminiscence of the year 2002, I nonchalantly drive through the inner streets of downtown Blacksburg. Students crowded around nearly every corner with a bar attached to it's walls, some even fumbling into the streets with whatever cognition is left in tact between the late hours of a weekend night. It's critical to be within close proximity of these people with the hopes of getting pinged to put money in the bank. Some of you may be thinking, "You have such a cool job! It must be super easy and fun to do all the time." I'll let you in on a little secret...
Uber ain't so uber.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a bit of a social butterfly. I enjoy making small talk with people and listening to them share their frustrations about class projects and stories of embarrassing moments that occur in the Kroger checkout line.
Truth is, being an Uber driver can be fun, but it's not always easy.
But before I jump into the nitty gritties, let me first explain to you how Uber works.
How does Uber work?
Rather than explaining it myself, I thought it best for you to listen to the creators themselves through this video:
Simple enough right? User requests a ride, you go and pick them up, and drop them off at their destination.
So why is Uber not so Uber?
There's many reasons why being an Uber driver can be good, but there are also many reasons why it's not.
But today I am only going to focus on one reason, my top reason, why Uber ain't so uber...
#1 - Navigation
Uber has worked hard over the years to improve their navigation feature to get you from point A to B. They've done a fairly good job overall for their personal navigation, but it could be improved upon.
Within this feature alone, I've found 3 problems:
Problem #1: Countdown to pickup
Say I'm on my way to pickup someone who has requested a ride. I get caught behind the last red light before making a right turn to pull around the corner of Sharkey's as my final destination. All of a sudden, the app decides that I have already arrived and begins the 2 minute countdown for the person to be picked up.
Being within close proximity of my point of destination, the app just assumes that I am able to pick up my rider. What's wrong with this picture is the fact that once the clock ticks down to 0:00, it then starts counting up, charging the rider's bill for the time that I spend waiting.
"That just means you get more money, isn't that a good thing?!"
No, no it's not.
The rider could become angry or even upset over the fact that they are being charged extra without their ride having even arrived at the pickup destination. This could lose their trust in Uber and may prevent them from requesting further on. In addition to that, they could give the driver a lower rating, even if it wasn't the driver's fault but the apps. And even worse...no tip.
Problem #2: Vague Drop off
This is only something I have found troublesome within Google Maps, since that is my preferred choice of navigation.
When I get within a few hundred feet of my destination, Google Maps will believe that I have arrived at my destination and zoom out to a bird's eye view and stop showing that pretty blue line to guide me to the specified location.
Not to mention, the address for the destination is not displayed in the top navigation bar, but rather coordinates.
Who knows how to read coordinates?!?!
If I wanted to know the exact address, I'd have to switch back to the Uber app and glance at the address entered in by the requested rider, and then switch back to Google Maps.
This causes me to have to glance back and forth between the GPS and the road, tapping the screen multiple times, to make sure that I land right on top of that little blue dot on the screen.
You can see how this would be a problem.
Problem #3 - Switching to another Navigation
While we're still on the topic of Google Maps, let's touch on one more thing I find flawed.
As soon as you get a request from someone and you tap the screen to accept cede request, the screen automatically gives you a map with directions to the destination through Uber's navigational GPS.
If you have Google Maps selected as your preferred Navigation App, you have to then tap this itty-bitty 'Navigate' button in the bottom right corner as displayed in the image on the left.
It then opens up the Google Maps app and you should be able to start your route from there...
It seems that once the app opens you have to then tap 'Start' to actually be given directions.
That's 2 additional steps you have to take before you can begin driving to pick up your requested rider.
Two additional steps that require your attention to be shifted from what it is that your doing on the road to focus on looking at your device.
Let me reinforce what that looks like...
Love that guy.
It's a pretty good depiction of how dangerous those two additional steps can be if your in motion on the road.
To fix this problem, Uber should create a seamless experience for drivers so that it takes little to no effort at all in getting directions to pickup their requested riders.
Doing so will not only create less frustration for the driver, but will create a safer driving experience.
Lyft does a good job with doing this.
After I have accepted a request, it instantly tells me the destination and switches over to Google Maps and shows me the directions to get to my destination.
Yes, Adam, they do deserve an applause.
If you want further explanation on this, listen to my friend Joe about how great Lyft's navigational feature can be:
If Uber wants to step up their game with the competition, navigation is #1 in my list.
It's a good start for making Uber actually uber.