Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took the stage at a livestreamed event for Uber drivers Tuesday to announce his first big product launch as head of the ride-hailing app.
He was upfront that the company made mistakes with how it treated its drivers over the years. “You’re the heart of the Uber experience,” he said, “but somewhere along the line as we grew as a company we lost sight of that.”
With that in mind, Khosrowshahi said the company worked with drivers to create a beta version of a revamped driver app, putting in features drivers wanted. At the unveiling event, the CEO said he thinks the new app “will be a huge, huge improvement over what we have now.” After months of working with drivers around the world and 100,000 trips, the company used all the feedback to build the app.
The app now features an earnings tracker with real-time earnings, a status bar with updates on higher-earning opportunities, and new notifications.
Yuki Yamashita, manager of product for driver experience, highlighted new surge zone displays, new messaging options, ETA and mileage notifications, and capability to stay connected to the app even in dead zones. Most of these changes earned a round of applause from the driver audience in Los Angeles.
The new Uber app in action.The new app will start rolling out Tuesday and should get to every Uber driver over the next few months. A new driver guide will help drivers just starting out.
Khosrowshahi even tried out the new app in a video — and showed how difficult it is to drive with a passenger in the back seat, the app pinging with updates, and a map displaying confusing directions. He kept missing a turn in downtown San Francisco, which he said was very frustrating, and that he respects what drivers do every day.
“We called you partners but never really treated you like partners,” he said. “We needed to do better.”