Taking the New Uber Driver App for a Spin!

You probably noticed by now that Uber launched a new driver app a few months back. Not too long ago I had the chance to meet with an Uber product manager to talk about the app. I also got the chance to talk with someone else who made this new app happen and see what they think. And he’s actually a driver here in L.A. whose feedback and experience help make this new app a reality.

Also, thanks to Uber for sponsoring this video. My hope is that with a video like this, we can open up the dialogue between Uber and its driver partners. The new driver app is the first of many improvements that Uber plans to make, and I think the more they involve drivers in the process, the better results we’ll see.

Note: Below the video is a transcription of my conversation with Johnny, the Uber driver from LA.

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Alright, so we’re waiting for Johnny in a gray Prius. Very classic Uber driver car.

Harry Campbell: So Johnny, how’d you get started with Uber?

Johnny: I used to have the Monday through Friday, nine to five, sit at a cubicle job, but I was looking to gain better control of my time. When I first got started I tested it part-time, and the fact that you can sign on, sign off whenever you like … I decided I would leave my full-time job and run with this full 100 miles per hour.

Harry Campbell: Wow. Well, hopefully not with passengers.

Johnny: No. I’m a Monday through Thursday type of dude. Fridays I usually work a little bit, and I like to take the weekends off.

Harry Campbell: Gotcha.

Johnny: I know the weekends is usually when the big money’s made, but I like the fact that I keep control of my time and the weekends is for family.

Harry Campbell: You’re also a beta tester for this new driver app, which I think is pretty cool. How’d you get involved in that?

Johnny: It was a team of about 10 of us. We would just get together, and then we’ll share our insight of how we think the app can improve, and what we like about it, and what we didn’t like about it.

What’s the best change to the driver app?

Harry Campbell: What’s the best change you’ve noticed in the new driver app?

Johnny: The earnings.

Harry Campbell: Earnings.

Johnny: Yeah, I enjoy how easy they make it for you to view your earnings, so I don’t have to start clicking while I’m out on the road. I could either set up the application to view my earnings daily or view my earnings weekly. Whatever. As a driver, sometimes I have daily calls; sometimes when it’s getting close to ending the week, I want to make sure that I end my weekly goal.

Harry Campbell: So now when you open the app, it’s right there, front and center? But I also like that there’s a little bit of flexibility. Because just like you said, there may be drivers who prefer looking at their daily goals; there may be drivers who prefer looking at their weekly goals; and there may even be drivers that want to do daily sometimes, and weekly at the end of the week.

Johnny: And the Quests; getting certain rights to compete on requests.

Harry Campbell: The Quest bonus is actually something that not every driver has access to, but it sounds like for the drivers that do have Uber Quest, that’s an option, too. You can see daily, weekly, or even your progress towards your Uber Quest.

Johnny: The only thing that maybe they could work on is sometimes once we complete that Quest, the Quest just goes away.

Harry Campbell: And I feel like that’s a great example where Uber can learn a lot from the drivers. Because if you’ve ever been out there at the end of a Quest bonus on a Thursday or Saturday night, or whatever it might be, and when you hit that 20th or that 60th ride, or whatever you need to get that Quest bonus, it’s a pretty good feeling. You’re like, “All right, I’m done. I can go home.”

Johnny: Pat on the back.

Harry Campbell: And it’s not something that should just disappear.

One of the things that I’ve liked about the new app is the notifications feature, because I know in the past, cars would always pop on to the screen and off the screen, and you didn’t always necessarily see the information you wanted.

Notifications are much cleaner, easier to read

Johnny: It’s a lot cleaner than the previous app. On the previous app, it kind of covered on your home screen. You scrolled up, and then you’d get 30 different notifications, ‘pay your insurance.’

Harry Campbell: I have noticed that some things are a little different from the old driver app to the new driver app. Have you noticed any big differences?

Johnny: You got that shield there.

Harry Campbell: Do you know what the shield means?

Johnny: I do, and fortunately I haven’t had to use it. I can either share a trip with someone that I need, or I can call the 9-1-1 assistance.

Harry Campbell: And I thing actually the shared trip feature is one that I think is pretty cool, because I’ve talked to a lot of drivers who, they might have someone else, their spouse or their boyfriend or girlfriend or husband or wife, or someone in their family; if you’re driving out late at night, they want to just know that you’re okay, know that you’re doing trips, or even just know where you are. I think this is actually a cool feature that not a lot of drivers know about.

What’s your favorite place to drive in L.A.?

Johnny: You know when you’re driving down on the 10, and you’re about to go into PCH, and you go through that bridge, and then you come out of the bridge, and bang, you see Malibu, you see the ocean.

New map features show you better areas to drive

Harry Campbell: Opportunities is the feature that if you’re driving, for example, and it tells you there’s a busy area nearby; drive towards this area. It’s basically the goal of this feature is to try and give drivers more information about what’s going on. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed, maybe you’ve noticed something like this in the new driver app?

Johnny: Yeah. If you’re driving at a certain area, it tells you that you’re busy, that you’re in a busy area?. I think Uber can improve on that.

Harry Campbell: I think the biggest thing with this opportunities feature is I would like to see Uber put its money where its mouth is, and really guarantee for example that, hey, this information that we’re giving you as a driver is correct. It’s valuable information, and we’re so confident that if you drive to this area and you don’t get a ride within five minutes, we’re going to pay you $5.00.

Changes to the trip planner: Switching to UberEATS

Johnny: Certain areas at certain times, I don’t want to drive anywhere Uber X, but I don’t mind driving Uber Eats. So if I get a request and I’m dropping someone off at a certain area and I want to sign on to Uber Eats, I could switch it while I’m on the drive there.

Harry Campbell: The trip planner allows you to set those options with Uber X and Uber Eats if you were Uber Select, for example. It sounds like you’re actually really doing a good job taking advantage of the flexibility. It might be the one time of the day when you don’t want a long ride away, and switching over to Uber Eats is a great way to stay local, and it sounds like you can do that with the trip planner.

Johnny: Yeah.

Harry Campbell: Big thanks to Johnny, for the ride. And I think that ride definitely deserves four stars … five stars, just kidding. It was great to meet with Johnny today, learn a little bit more about him, and also how he’s using the new driver app features to make his life a little easier.

I think features like notifications and trip planner are great additions, but we all know that earnings matter most. The earnings tracker keeps you up to date on how much you’re making, and I’m excited to see what happens with the opportunities feature, too, because I think there’s real potential to improve a driver’s bottom line there by giving them more information. And hopefully, it’s clear that Uber put a lot of work into this new driver app, incorporated great feedback from partners like Johnny.

I think it’s definitely something that we want to see more of in the future since nobody knows this business better than you. Let me know what you think of the new driver app and leave a comment below. What’s one feature you’d like to see Uber add next? Because, you know what? They will be listening. Drive safe, everyone.

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