Uber's redesigned driver app aims to boost income, rider satisfaction

The updated app is meant to give drivers information about how to increase their earnings and to improve the service they provide customers.

Uber has redesigned its Partner app to give its drivers more information on how to make more money while delivering a better ride experience to their passengers.

The update unveiled Tuesday includes a "heat map" that shows drivers where they are most likely to get their next customer, even when there isn't high enough demand to raise prices. The feature could reduce the time and gas drivers waste waiting for their next passenger, while also cutting how long riders must wait for rides.

Uber's redesigned Partners app includes information for increasing fares and improving service.Photo by Uber

"From choosing when and where to drive, to tracking progress toward goals -- our driver-partners make choices at every turn," Uber said in statement. "Through feedback sessions, research and testing, we collaborated with drivers to understand how our team of engineers, designers, and data scientists could build features that would best meet their needs."

Many of these new features are already offered by Uber's rival, Lyft. Offering similar tools will likely help both companies keep drivers happy with their services.

Uber rose to prominence by offering a smartphone app that sidesteps taxicabs and provides a connection between people who want a ride and de facto cab drivers who pilot their own vehicles. Since its launch six years ago, the ride-hailing service has grown from a San Francisco-based startup into a multinational service that provides rides in 295 cities and 55 countries. In the process it has become the world's highest-valued startup, with a valuation of more than $50 billion.

But the startup's relationship with its drivers has not always been smooth sailing. Uber drivers have staged protests in front of Uber offices in the US and UK, upset over Uber raising fees it charges drivers for its service in some cities and maintaining price cuts in others, moves they say take a bigger bite out of their take-home pay.

Uber is also fighting a class-action lawsuit filed by drivers for classifying them as independent contractors rather than employees. The company's current classification of drivers as contractors means the company is not responsible for all sorts of costs, including Social Security, health insurance, paid sick days and overtime.

While the redesigned app aims to help drivers increase their earnings, it also includes a section with interactive charts that let drivers track their up-to-date earnings. A personalized home feed provides information on upcoming events, extra earnings opportunities and tips for providing better service to riders.

The app also includes a ratings section that expands beyond drivers' average ratings to include rider feedback on what they liked or disliked about their experiences.

The app is already available to some drivers and will be available globally in the coming weeks, Uber said.

Update 9:51am PT: This story has been updated to include information about features Uber's competitor, Lyft, also offers its drivers.

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