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Lyft gets all social with personalized 'profiles'

The ride-hailing service will soon let passengers and drivers share more about themselves, such as their hometown and music tastes.

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Ride-hailing service Lyft is rolling out a new way for passengers and drivers to share more about themselves. Lyft

Think of it as the buddy system, perhaps.

Ride-hailing company Lyft has always put a cozy spin on its business, from its original motto ("your friend with a car") to its current one of "making every ride welcoming, affordable and memorable." Now it's aiming to get even chummier with you through a new personalization feature called "profiles."

The Lyft service lets people in need of a ride connect with drivers via smartphone app. When you hail a Lyft ride you can see the driver's name and photo, as well as a photo of the car. The new profiles give you an opportunity to learn even more about the drivers, such as where they're from and their favorite musicians. And it's a two-way street -- passengers can also fill out their own profiles.

"Lyft profiles will enhance the in-car connections that are already happening in Lyft rides every day," a company spokeswoman said, "whether passengers and drivers connect over the same music, or share a friend from the same hometown."

The ride-hailing market is fiercely competitive. Uber and the $5.9 billion it's raised cast a long shadow, while smaller companies are also scrambling for a piece of the pie. Some services, like Shuddle, drive around children, while others, like Flywheel and AsterRide, partner with taxi companies. Lyft, which has raised $862.5 million, has tried to single itself out as the warmer, fuzzier, more social service.

The profiles feature fits right in with this approach. Besides musical tastes and points of origin, Lyft drivers and passengers can also look for bonds through Facebook Connect, which will show if they have friends in common. But participating in the profiles is voluntary -- you can choose how much or how little to share.

Lyft plans to roll out profiles for iOS in the coming weeks. The feature will then launch for Android. The company spokeswoman said Lyft will continue to "evolve this feature over time."