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Uber app redesign puts Eats front and center

From the home screen, you'll now have the option of hailing a ride or ordering food.

This second version of Uber's new app is expected to roll out to users in early October.

Uber announced Thursday the first major overhaul to its rider app in three years. The ride-hailing company unveiled two possible versions of the app, both of which put more of an emphasis on its food delivery service, Uber Eats.

No longer just a ride-hailing service, Uber now has bikes and scooters for rent in several cities. In other places, it's integrated public transportation into the app. It's also partnered with tens of thousands of restaurants and chains for Uber Eats, including McDonald's, Starbucks and Ben & Jerry's.

"We see a world where this will open up even more of the experiences you can get from the Uber app," Nundu Janakiram, Uber's director of product, said in an interview. "This is kind of the natural evolution."

Uber debuted on Wall Street in May and has since been struggling as a public company. It's seen plummeting stock pricesquarterly revenue losslayoffs of more than 800 employees and an exodus of high-level executives. One of its businesses that's performing better, and that stockholders may be counting on, is Uber Eats.

Uber Eats will now be front and center in the updated app. When users open either of the new versions of the app, they'll be given the choice of getting a ride or ordering food from the home screen.

"We want to unify those into a common platform as much as possible," Janakiram said. "Our highest hope is to deliver to our customers their daily needs."

One version of the app has already been live in several cities in the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. The home screen of this version still has a map and the rides and Eats options at the bottom. The second version, which hasn't yet been released, takes out the map and has larger buttons for either choosing a ride or ordering food.

In an interview with CNBC, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said the redesign was part of the company's efforts to become "the operating system for your daily life."

"Uber is about information, search, real-time pricing and the transaction, all the way," he said. "You've got search and you've got information, but you can transact all in one go, get loyalty points, use your Uber Cash, etcetera. We think all that together is superior."

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Uber has been testing the app update for more than a year, Janakiram said, adding that additional changes, such as an option to click on bikes or scooters, may also be added to the new versions. Uber's current app already shows bikes and scooters for rent on its map.

Rival Lyft updated its app this week too. Like Uber's current app, it added bikes, scooters, public transit and car rentals to what users see on the map. The company said the idea was to make it easier for people to navigate cities within one app.

Uber's new app is expected to roll out to the public in early October. The company also announced Thursday that its members reward program is expanding. Along with offering new deals, like free deliveries for Eats and discounts on rides, it's launching in Brazil and Mexico.

Originally published Sept. 26, 9:45 a.m. PT.
Update at 3:41 p.m.: Adds comments from a television interview with the Uber CEO.