Uber Rolls Out Navigation Update Aimed At Competing With Google Maps, Waze

With its in-app, turn-by-turn directions, the company hopes showcase its mapping capabilities and decrease drivers' reliance on outside apps.

Uber has rolled out a redesigned navigation experience for drivers, enabling turn-by-turn directions in-app with one touch — a move aimed at making it so that drivers don’t need to switch between the Uber app and another mapping app like Google Maps or Waze.

Updated features include navigation basics such as lane guidance and real-time traffic updates, as well Route Preview, which “displays the first turn after a pickup or dropoff to ease trip transitions,” Uber said in a blog post.

On its face, the update serves to offer a more streamlined navigation experience for drivers, ideally resulting in a smoother ride for users as well. But it’s likely that the impetuous for the rollout is Uber’s bid to showcase the work its done on boosting its own mapping capabilities — and decrease its drivers’ reliance on what are theoretically mapping app competitors.

It would appear that Uber has been prepping this move for a while. In 2015, the company acquired both De Carta and a significant chunk of Microsoft Bing’s mapping assets, and it followed up that purchase with a partnership with TomTom to license its mapping and traffic data. And in 2016, the Financial Times reported that Uber planned to pour another $500 million into a global mapping project. Increasing reliance on an updated Uber maps — as well as the company’s much-discussed self-driving cars project — is where all of those acquisitions will bear fruit.

Uber has essentially said as much: “From providing accurate ETAs to navigating the fastest path to your destination, maps are at the heart of the Uber experience,” the company said in its blog post. “Our goal is to be drivers’ first choice when driving with Uber. This update is just the first step and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.