Uber just announced that it will allow third-party apps to dish up content, notifications, or ads to users during their rides. The content can be the same length as the Uber ride and customized by location – and the user has to give permission first.
This update is called, “Trip Experiences” and Uber says it’s their biggest update to the application program interface (API) since last March when they debuted the Ride Request API. Trip Experiences will allow an app, after securing the user’s permission, to provide different types of content during the user’s Uber trip, with the details of the ride taken into consideration.
The examples Uber gives in their announcement post all sound good. There’s the student en route to school who can listen to a playlist that’s exactly the length of his commute. Or there’s a family on the way home who gets a reminder to turn on their heat from their smart home app. Or a couple on their way to a restaurant who gets recommendations on the menu.
The real question is whether these examples will be the majority, or if Trip Experiences will just become a vehicle for ads. It’s not a gamble to say that most people would prefer silence over ads in their Uber ride.
But Uber says that the user will remain in total control, so if an app gets too liberal with their ads the user can disconnect. Also, in Uber’s developer terms, there is a provision that prohibits developers from using the Uber API to send out unwanted ads or promotions. Of course, that doesn’t mean no ads at all, but we’re pretty used to that by now.