- Google is rolling out an updated ride services mode, which was originally launched last spring, making it easier to book and plan a night out without having to leave Google Maps, the company said in a blog post.
- When users open the ride services mode in Google, they will now see a map of their location — instead of a long list of providers and options — and a carousel they can swipe to see ride service providers in the area. Tapping on a provider lets users see a list of ride options and special offers.
- The new Uber integration enables all iOS and Android users, even if they don’t have the Uber app installed on their device, to book, complete and pay for a ride without leaving Maps. Users can also track their driver, connect with their driver and view information about their destination, like the hours and menu for a restaurant.
The Maps news reflects the trend toward more integrated mobile experiences that don’t require users to open and close multiple apps to accomplish a task such as finding a location and then booking a ride to get there. In addition to providing a better experience for mobile users, who are often on the go and looking to get things done quickly, the strategy ensures users stay within the Google Maps environment for longer.
By including information about destinations including restaurants and other local businesses in the experience, Google is integrating location, local search and ride-sharing in a one-stop service for mobile users in a way that few other services can replicate, given Google’s leading role in mapping and search.
In the fall, Google boosted Maps' analytics by acquiring Urban Engines, which uses algorithms and cloud computing to understand and optimize traffic flow. The company continues to build new opportunities for brands to be a part of Maps. During the holidays, Starbucks, Walgreens and others tested a Maps ad unit for generating foot traffic called Promoted Places.
Google Trips is another example of how the company is trying to streamline mobile experiences. The travel app combines hotel reservations, restaurant and drink suggestions and day planning all in one location. As the mobile ecosystem gets more fragmented and complex, more value-added streamlined experiences such as these will be necessary to meet consumers’ expectations.