After more than two years introducing new ways for developers to build experiences for riders through its APIs, Uber is expanding to provide the same opportunity to drivers. Today, the on-demand ride-hailing service launched its Driver API, and it has enlisted the help of Jobcase, Sears, SherpaShare, Stride, and Activehours to highlight the possible use cases.
“More than 1.5 million people across the globe drive on the Uber platform,” explained Chris Saad, a product manager with the company. “With demand for flexible, on-demand work on the rise, we also see an extraordinary opportunity for developers. By leveraging driver profile data, trip data, earnings, and more, you can create new apps and services that make driving with Uber more productive and fun.”
Typical tech companies may have APIs that allow third-party apps to integrate in order to appeal to a single audience. But in Uber’s case, there are both riders and drivers to consider. Until today, riders benefited greatly from the company’s developer program, as they are able to summon a car through Facebook Messenger, the United Airlines app, Google Maps, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Starbucks, and many other services looking for a way to connect the last mile.
The new API provides developers three specific endpoints: profile information, such as rating, picture, and active status; trip details; and payment information. Uber emphasized that although third-party apps will receive this information, drivers will maintain control over what can be accessed by each app. It’s likely that these endpoints were chosen based on the basic level of data developers are interested in, and it’s possible that additional endpoints could be added in the future.
So why will developers be interested in crafting in-app driver experiences? Well, for one thing, there’s no way that Uber can tap all the possible tie-ins by itself, even with Pandora and Spotify integrations and the ability to find cheap gas through the company’s driver app. So there’s a clear opportunity for other apps to step in and fill that gap. Also, tapping into an audience of transit-minded people within the on-demand space could be rather compelling for any number of businesses.
Use cases could exist around career advancement and networking, loyalty programs, and even personal finance tools. Take Sears, for example. The retail company has tapped into Uber’s trips endpoint to reward drivers with its “Shop Your Way” loyalty points, and it even offers discounts within its auto center. In another scenario, Stride incorporates the trips and payments endpoints within its financial management app so drivers can quickly identify possible deductions.
It’s also feasible that this may start the establishment of a “credit score”-type feature, in which ratings and performance impact how large a discount is provided.
Of course, as the battle between Uber and Lyft wages on, the companies need to offer drivers more incentives in order to build up loyalty. Both companies already provide benefits such as cheap gas, instant payouts, and other amenities, so the idea of engaging developers through an API is a logical extension.
The driver API is the latest developer tool in Uber’s arsenal, joining its Ride Request, Trip Experiences, and Rush APIs. This new feed is only available to a limited set of developers, but it could be more widely available in the future. Saad encouraged developers to get involved, saying: “if you have an idea for something unique or impactful you’d like to build, please apply for access.”
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