UberPool app upgrades increasing convenience and options, may increase already 50% share of Uber rides in San Francisco

UberPool is one of the cheaper ride-hailing options, grouping nearby passengers who are headed in the same direction. The problem is that all of those pickups and drop-offs can be time consuming. To help, Uber has announced a raft of new features for its mobile apps, including status notifications for riders. Once you’ve confirmed a booking, that means you’ll receive “real-time instructions” and updates such as “leaving shortly” and “be ready outside.” Drivers, meanwhile, will find a timer in the app specifying how long to wait at the pick-up point. If the passenger doesn’t appear, they’re free to move on and claim a no-show fee from Uber.

Uber is also rolling out automatic trip switching. If you’re waiting for a ride, but another, better journey is booked before your pickup, Uber will swap you over automatically. Passengers and drivers will receive a notification explaining the change, hopefully enabling a faster, more convenient journey. As an extension, the company is experimenting with a new feature called “predictive matching.” If you’re booking a ride and few drivers are available — or the other passengers are miles away — the app will hold off and wait for a better match-up. Uber will work this out based on historical trip data — so if you live in a place where lots of bookings typically take place, there’s a higher chance it’ll wait for another journey.

Finally, Uber is helping drivers with clearer payment information and “route extension” maps. The latter repositions the app to show the next two pick-up locations (rather than just the next one). That way, drivers have a more complete picture about their journey, and can shuffle lanes or take turns that will make both passenger pick-ups easier to complete.