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Uber has evolved beyond recognition since its debut in San Francisco back in 2011, with the company now offering everything from food delivery services to an AI-infused platform for truckers.

Its core urban mobility offering for consumers has also expanded into all manner of services, covering car-sharing, scooters, bikes, and more. It’s easy to forget the genesis for the super-cheap Uber we know today was in fact a luxury car-hailing service that could cost up to double that of a regular cab. But the recently public ride-hail giant today announced a handful of updates to its premium services.

Uber Black and Uber SUV, as they’re known, will now allow riders to outline specific preferences before they get into the car. Inside the app, they can stipulate that they do not want to chat with the driver — next to “conversation,” the user can choose “quiet preferred” or “happy to chat.”

This feature was actually suggested by a Reddit user last year, with much discussion ensuing, and a few months later a Lyft executive indicated that it was something they had toyed with internally, but had yet to seriously consider. Judging by some of the reactions those two episodes garnered, we can be sure of a few things. Firstly, “quiet mode,” as Uber is calling it, will be a popular feature among riders looking to travel in silence without being rude. But we also know that those who believe technology is already interfering too much with human-to-human interactions will probably oppose it. That said, you can also be certain that Uber riders will demand that this feature be included in all other Uber services.

Elsewhere with this update, a new temperature control setting will enable riders to let drivers know whether they’re keen on a bit of cool or warmth in the back, and if they have a ton of luggage they can also request assistance. While an Uber Black driver already probably offers to help with a rider’s bags, having this information in advance means they can be ready to leap out on arrival.

Above: New preferences for Uber Black riders

“Uber Black and Uber Black SUV riders told us they wanted high-quality service and premium comfort,” Uber wrote in a blog post. “That’s why we’ve improved features and requirements to meet or exceed their expectations on every ride.”

Other additions to the new Uber Black include extended pickup periods, affording riders more time to get their things together, and premium telephone support with humans on the other end of the line.

All these new features are rolling out from May 15 in the U.S., though the company hasn’t given any indication as to when — or if — they may be made available globally.


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