Uber fans with Android phones, take note: you’ll no longer be able to book Uber rides directly through the Google Maps app. No one knows why the change is taking place, as the capabilities were extremely user-friendly. Uber users simply needed to use their Google Maps app in order to find a ride, map a route, and even book the ride without ever opening an Uber app. The feature was first rolled out in 2017.
With the new changes in effect, users will only be able to map a route and check prices. The actual booking will need to take place via the Uber app, according to 9 to 5 Google. So instead of a “book” button, people will see a “request” button, which will take them to the Uber app.
The change is shrouded in secrecy, as Google hasn’t explained in detail why they’re implementing the new changes. CNET reported that the change already took place on the iOS version of Google Maps last summer. When asked for comment, Google simply said that “We’re always experimenting with new features for Google Maps. Based on feedback, we determine whether these changes roll out permanently.”
There is speculation about the changes, however. Some believe that it has much to do with Google having stakes in Lyft, which is perhaps Uber’s biggest competitor. Google’s parent company Alphabet reportedly led a $1 billion financing round for Lyft back in October, detailed Engadget. Also, it’s worth noting that Lyft and Waymo reached a deal back in May 2017 to work together on self-driving cars. Waymo operates under Google’s parent company.
Others believe that the move was done in order to “demote” Uber to be on the same playing field as all other rideshare companies, which include Lyft but also Gett, Juno, and others, according to Fortune. It’s hard to know for certain if the Google Map integration helped Uber secure more business.
Uber seems to be in the news quite often, as the company has been riddled with accusations surrounding sexual assault and discrimination in the past. Taxi drivers are reportedly committing suicide as they are thrust into a deep depression over losing business. Moreover, South African Uber drivers recently went on strike to protest the 25 percent service fee, detailed Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, some users are hoping that the features come back. However, Mashable predicts that it’s unlikely to be reinstated since the update is on Google’s support page.