Uber’s developer team has unveiled a Ride Request “widget” — essentially an SDK — that directly brings the Uber service into third-party apps, eliminating any deep linking. Although it’ll be available worldwide, this offering is aimed directly at developers in China and India, those whose feedback helped Uber understand that users in these countries are more comfortable with an embedded experience.
Although it’s being introduced now, the SDK won’t be available until mid-April.
In terms of functionality, Uber’s “Request a ride” feature SDK isn’t that different from the component that was released in December: Either option will allow you to request a car to your location. But it is more streamlined — the new SDK embeds Uber’s experience right into a third-party app, while the previously released ride request button opens up the Uber app. The company has also taken low bandwidth and poor GPS coverage into account, and the map feature has been modified to avoid heavy consumption of data and battery power. While the map most users are accustomed to may not appear, Uber has included a visual indicator to highlight the ride request and trip status.
By targeting China and India with this offering, Uber is taking steps to accommodate developers who have asked for more support. The move also helps to fortify the company’s presence in the face of enormous local competition from Didi Kuaidi and GrabTaxi, both of which participate in a ridesharing alliance with Uber’s U.S. competitor Lyft. It’s been reported that Uber is losing $1 billion a year in China as a result of Didi’s competition.
And while the current battle is over drivers and market share, the next will unfold in the developer space. This is part of why Uber views 2016 as a “transformative year” and has deployed resources to ensure that its efforts to overcome the “last mile” can be utilized by other apps in the marketplace.