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Latest Uber update brings a 911 “panic button” to the app

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Over the past year or so, Uber has taken quite a beating when it comes to rider safety. After numerous reports of assaults and robberies, Uber promised in April this year to work aggressively to make sure riders feel safe.

As part of that initiative, today Uber is rolling out a new “panic button” feature within the Uber app, via The Verge. The button (which simply calls 911) is located in a new section of the app called the Safety Center. 

If you were to be riding in an Uber and needed to call 911, you would simply open the app and swipe up on the Safety Center icon. There, you’ll see an option called “911 Assistance.” If you tap that, a notification will pop up asking if you are sure you want to dial 911; if you push through that notification, your phone will dial for help.

One might argue that opening your phone’s dialer and inputting “9-1-1” would be way faster than this. However, this feature will be incredibly helpful if you are riding in an Uber in a foreign country, where 911 may or may not be the emergency number to dial. The feature is also helpful if you are in an emergency situation where dialing 911 would be dangerous, whereas swiping around on your phone would be safer and more discrete.

Additionally, in certain markets the Uber app will automatically transmit your location to first responders if you use the panic button rather than dialing 911 manually. However, this feature is only a pilot program right now and not nationwide.

Along with the panic button, the new Safety Center features information about how drivers are selected to become Uber contractors, details about insurance protections, and general community guidelines.

This is all well and good for Uber riders, but what about drivers? Uber says that a driver-centric Safety Center is in the works and coming soon.

To get access to this new Safety Center feature, download the latest Uber update at the link below.

Previous updates

Latest Uber update brings live location sharing, beacon expansions, and much more

November 21, 2017: Uber is rolling out live location sharing. Now, your driver can see exactly where you’re located in relation to your pickup spot. To turn on live location, tap the grey icon in the bottom right corner of your app. When the icon turns blue, that means the driver can see your location. Uber is also expanding its Beacon functionality to New York City, San Francisco, and Chicago. When you activate a Beacon, you can select a specific color that will only light up on your Uber’s windshield, allowing you to spot the right car more quickly. There’s another new feature coming to the Uber app that will make requesting rides for other people much easier. Say, for instance, you’d like to call a ride for your parents but they’ve never used Uber. Just tap “Where to?”, then choose who’s riding in the car. Your parents will then receive an SMS with ETA details, car type, and the driver’s contact info. 

In-app chat between drivers and riders

August 10, 2017: Uber issued an update in August that allows riders to communicate with drivers much easier. No more awkward calling, and no more running down the street to holler at your driver.Uber is rolling out an update which will add in-app messaging between drivers and riders, right inside the app. Once you’ve summoned a ride, you will see the usual “Contact” button below the driver’s name. Tapping that will bring up a brand-new chatting window. If you need to call the driver, the option is still there on the top right corner.

Book an Uber for someone else

June 28, 2017: Uber has released a new feature that basically allows you to book a ride for someone else. To make sure your loved ones are able to get to wherever they want to go, you can simply open up the app and book a ride by setting the pickup away from your current location, at which point Uber will ask you whether the ride is for you or someone else. You can then select the rider from your address book, set the final destination, and request the ride on their behalf. The rider will receive a text message with the driver’s details once the car is on its way, along with a link to track its route.

Updated rating system

April 27, 2017: Uber has updated its app’s rating system to try and make it fairer and encourage better rider behavior. Rider ratings are now more visible, as they are placed directly under their names in the app menu. The new placement will act as an ongoing reminder to users to be respectful on their journeys.

The update also brings changes to POOL trips so that driver ratings aren’t negatively affected by forces outside of their control. When you rate a POOL trip less than 5 stars, you can select additional reasons why. And when the reason is something like the route or co-rider behavior, the rating won’t be applied to the driver’s average.


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