Sorry Sydney, Uber Boats isn’t coming to the harbour city

uber boats

Image: Luciann Photography

Uber has just announced a suite of new features at its annual Go/Get event in New York City, including boat bookings and group grocery orders. Uber for Business is also getting an upgrade, allowing hospitality companies to arrange rides for guests.

This is the third year that Uber has run its Go/Get event, but this time it is splitting it in two. Today’s announcements focus on travel and families, while another held in London next month will concentrate on the company’s sustainability efforts.

The biggest announcement for businesses is Uber Central. This will live specifically within Uber for Business, allowing businesses in the hospitality industry to arrange ground transportation for their guests. The idea is to allow travellers to enjoy their holiday while their rides are handled for them.

Guests will also receive trip information and can track their ride’s progress.

Uber Eats expands its grocery features

Uber Eats is also getting an expansion, allowing for group grocery orders between family members, roommates or friends going on holiday.

Users can add their desired items to a shared cart and set deadlines. Reminders will be sent to all participants two hours and ten minutes before the order closes.

“I was always the roommate who organised all this stuff, and now you have an app that can do the nagging”, Therese Lim, Uber Eat’s Senior Director of Product, said in an interview with SmartCompany.

“My sister is living with me temporarily and it’s hard because I’ll be in a meeting and have to yell at her for thirty seconds about how she hasn’t gotten her order in. It’s so disruptive to your day.

“When we were developing this we really wanted it to be hassle-free. We wanted the app to take of everything.”

The bill will be split between all users who contributed to an order. However, there are some limitations for the time being. Uber confirmed in an interview with SmartCompany that there is no ability to split evenly or customise it in any other way. Instead, users will just pay for any items they personally added to the group cart.

On the plus side, this does mean you don’t have to pay for any pricey items anyone surreptitiously slides into the cart. 

Here in Australia this feature will be available via Coles. The supermarket giant and Uber announced an expansion to their existing partnership just last month.

This brought ‘on-demand’ grocery delivery to the platform via 500 physical Coles stores across Australia. The service allows shoppers to communicate with the Uber Eats worker who is packing and delivering their orders, allowing for product substitutions.

This has been expanded further with the group grocery orders feature. Users are able to set up recurring orders, as well as preferences for substitutions.

This has come at an opportune time for the platform, particularly in Australia as other food and grocery delivery apps – such as Milkrun, Providoor and CoLab.

Group rides, family profiles and boats!?

Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra and Auckland will also be the first cities in the world to get a new Group Rides feature. This feature allows users to invite others to add their addresses on a group trip.

While Uber already allowed for multiple stops, it generally resulted in an unfair cost split. Group Rides will optimse the route to each address and each individual rider will only be charged for the time they were in the Uber.

Group rides will be launching in the near future.

Other new features include family profiles (allowing for multiple profiles to be linked and rides paid for from a single account), video gift messaging and Uber Boats.

The latter is bringing boat bookings directly from the Uber app. But before you get too excited, it is launching first around Mykonos.

It’s currently unclear if it will expand further into other markets – like the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour. But it’s our understanding that it could be switched on seasonally in certain areas.

What we can confirm is that it’s for a total of eight people and for select stops around the island. The price is then dependent on how many stops you opt for.

You also can’t pop on over to Greece and commandeer a super yacht. A skipper is attached to each bookings, so hands off the wheel.

There were also several other features announced that won’t be coming to Australia in the near future. These include Uber Teens, which allows children between 13 and 17 to be added to a parents account to request rides and food, with added tracking and security. The US market is also getting Uber Car Seat and 1-833-USE-UBER — a service for users less confident with smartphone app navigation.

The author travelled to New York as a guest of Uber.


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