Not content with just helping individuals get from point A to B, Here Mobility has just announced SoMo, a "first-of-its-kind mobility app" that combines maps and navigation with social ride-hailing to helps users find and share rides with friends, family and coworkers.
SoMo, short for Social Mobility, allows users to plan trips, share those trips and navigate along the way. So, for example, a group of co-workers who want to carpool can plan a recurring ride-share to the office, invite riders and get turn-by-turn navigation to the office with pick-up and drop-off locations with live-updating ETA information for each rider.
The SoMo app ties in elements of event planning, calendaring, social networking and navigation apps. For example, a group of parents can set up a weekly recurring ride to soccer practice. Later, individual parents can then accept or decline the ride like they could a calendar appointment. They can even take turns doing the driving and SoMo will update the route to optimize for that week's pick-ups and drop-offs.
One-time events, like weddings or parties, can also be set up within the SoMo app, which allows users to manage invites and guest lists. Invitees can then organize carpools, drive themselves with turn-by-turn navigation or take advantage of partner taxi services, public transportation, bikesharing or other forms of mobility.
Experience has taught me that users can be resistant to adopting new apps, so SoMo has an uphill battle against more established navigation apps like Waze (which also integrates ride-sharing functionalities), Google Maps and Apple Maps, as well as established paid ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber. However, I can see two very strong points SoMo has working for it out of the gate.
First, it adds an ability to share free rides with trusted riders. The concept of carpooling as a cost-sharing measure dates back to the 1940s and in areas (or countries) where Uber and Lyft aren't as saturated, sharing a ride with a colleague is still a great way to save money and -- with carpool lanes -- time on commuting. Even in areas where it's easy to grab a Lyft, a carpool is simply cheaper.
Secondly, there's the element of trust. Parents uncomfortable dropping their kids in an Uber with a stranger to send them to soccer practice may feel better sharing responsibility with a small network of other parents that they know. The app's automatic updates about driver location and ETA should also help with peace of mind.
SoMo should be hitting the Google Play Store and Apple App Store globally this week with English, Spanish, French, German and Brazilian Portuguese localizations.
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