Uber’s drones were creepy, but online marketing might be worse

Image: Getty Images

Earlier this year, Uber deployed drones in Mexico City to hover near vehicles stuck in traffic while displaying advertisements for UberPOOL, the company’s carpool service.

The ads said a few different things about the advantages of sharing rides that two and a half years of commuting time could be saved, that “the city would be for you, not for 5.5 million cars.”

The marketing stunt managed to fly under the radar for a few months, but it blew up after Bloomberg published a photo of the drones last week. Outlets called them creepy, badgering, mocking and more. This all makes sense, because they’re disturbing as hell, like something the totalitarian Combine aliens would use to demoralize humankind in Half-Life 2.

To clarify, though, Uber has no grand plans to unleash an army of marketing drones on global civilization. A representative for the company told Mashable a handful of drones were sent out in Mexico City on a single day as a creative marketing exercise, and the company doesn’t plan to do it again.

There’s something kind of refreshing about the tenacity here.

Still, even as the drones remind us of the worst parts of Blade Runner, where a technologically advanced society is rotted by omnipresent marketing and industry run amok, there’s something kind of refreshing about the tenacity here.

We live in an era of ultra subliminal marketing, when algorithms on services like Facebook and Google are deployed to learn as much about us as possible for the sake of delivering content (including ads) with ruthless efficiency. Each of us is marketed to on a daily basis; perhaps without even thinking about it.

For crying out loud: We are at a point in time when we have to consider the very real ethical implications of autonomous carsthat could collect information about (and footage of) their surroundings for the sake of filling corporate coffers.

So, yeah, the drones were a little scary. But they were totally in your face (well, Mexico City’s face), which is certainly more than could be said of the creepy online marketing that pervades our daily lives. Comforting, right? Right!

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google Search now lets people book a cab with Ola and Uber in India

Image: AP

Next time you want to book a cab in India with Uber and Ola and also compare their fares just make a Google search.

Google announced today that it is making it easier for Indians to book a cab on the two ride-hailing services. Users can get a cab to any place by just making a Google search about it with their phone.

Searching for “Taxi to Noida” on Google, for instance, now includes an option to book a cab with Ola and Uber. The page also includes the estimated fare as well as estimated pick up time with distance and traffic details. One can also search for “Ola to Noida”, or “Uber to Gurgaon”, in case one prefers one brand over the other.

However, a user needs to have Uber or Ola app on their phone to make use of this feature as thats where they are directed to from Google search. In case one doesnt have the concerned app installed, Google search page instead directs them to the Play Store listing for that app. The feature was also made available in Google Maps earlier this year.

Image: Manish Singh / mashable

Google says it has worked with Ola and Uber to make this option available. The feature illustrates how both the companies are increasingly trying to make it easier for people to get a cab.

Earlier this month, Ola announced that users on its platform can book a cab even when they dont have a working data connection. Through this, when a user is on a spotty network, the app asks them if they would like to use SMSs to book the cab.

Uber has also made efforts to made it easier for people in India to book a cab. In August, the company announced that people can book a cab on its platform through the mobile website without downloading the app. It also announced a feature that lets people book a cab for their friends.

Choosing the best transit option can be a task at times, our aim is to help users simplify their everyday travel. With this, users will be able to order, explore and make quick comparisons about the best estimated taxi fare directly from Google Search results on their mobile, said Sanket Gupta, Program Manager, Google.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/19/book-uber-ola-cab-google-search-india/

Uber, Google team up to help you vote on Election Day

In this July 15, 2015, file photo, Uber driver Karim Amrani sits in his car parked near the San Francisco International Airport parking area.
Image: jeff chiu/ap photo

Lyft just one-upped Uber on its Election Day promotion.

Uber announced Thursday morning that it had teamed up with Google on an in-app feature that helps users locate and request rides to their polling locations. The feature will appear in all locations where Uber is available in the U.S. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Uber’s largest U.S. competitor Lyft came cruising in Thursday afternoon with its own announcement: a 45 percent discount (in honor of the to-be-named 45th President).

The discount can be applied to one ride between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. (so you’ll have to pay for your ride home or to work) and is available in 20 markets:

Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver,Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New Orleans, NYC and New Jersey, Orange County, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh, San Diego and Washington DC.

Lyft users in those markets will receive an email Sunday to access the discount.

Starting Tuesday, Uber users will see a pop-up notification reminding them that it is Election Day when they open the app.

Tapping on “Find Your Polling Place” will direct them to a webpage, powered by Google. Enter in your address, when you registered and select “Uber to Your Polling Place,” and it will then populate the Uber app with your designated polling station and show the hours of operation and ballot information.

Image: uber

“Given the important decision people around the country will make on November 8th, we wanted to make getting to and from your polling place easier than ever. Teaming up with Google, Uber is excited to help make that trip as convenient and stress free as possible,” Niki Christoff, Uber’s head of federal affairs, said in a statement.

Uber rides will not be free or discounted on Election Day, unless you have never before used Uber. New Uber users can use the promotional code “VOTETODAY” for $20 off their first ride.

Lyft has a similarly sized promotion. New users can use the code”NOVEMBER8TH”to receive $5 off their first 10 rides.

Civil media organization Voto Latino created a super PAC My Ride To Vote, which is raising money to fund Lyft rides on Election Day.

For those looking for a bite or drink after voting, try out this map.

This post has been updated to include Lyft’s promotions on Election Day.

Read more: http://mashable.com/