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Uber Trip Experience to tap built-in backseat audience with third-party apps

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After reaching a billion trips late last year, Uber wants to reach out to a built-in audience of millions of backseat passengers, each needing some form of entertainment.

Enter the “Uber Trip Experience,” the biggest update to the Uber app program interface (API), since March, when the San Francisco-based company allowed developers to add an Uber button into their user interfaces.

Uber is calling third-party app developers to create notifications, ads, and other content for riders to use during trips. Content can be customized to the length and locations of each trip, as long as users give permission. Apps within the Uber API could offer all types pf content during that user’s Uber ride, tailored for its individual details.

Students can get a playlist of songs from their favorite music app timed to the length of their trip. Riders can receive a five-minute news update, or restaurant recommendations as they arrive. Another app could offer a reminder to turn on the heat when headed home.

One primary requirement for an app to be whitelisted by Uber: users must be in complete control.

“They will need to give permission before their favorite apps can connect to Uber and access their trip details,” says the Uber Blog announcement. ” And if they find it’s not useful, users will be able to turn off the feature on an app by app basis.”

A provision in the terms for developers prohibits developers using the Uber API to distribute unsolicited advertising, promotions or other marketing.

“The point of this experience to provide added value to a user not irritate them,” an Uber representative told the Verge. “Because we require all apps to be whitelisted with us, we will be able to ensure the user experience is a positive one.”

Uber Trip Experience is just the latest in an n ongoing effort by Uber to offer as many third-party apps as possible, with the goal of becoming the global go-to transportation service.

A few of the suggestions for third-party apps (images courtesy Uber Blog):

News: A five minute news update for a five minute trip
News: A five-minute news update for a five-minute trip
Local Guides: Insights and offers at your destination
Local Guides: Insights and offers at your destination
Your home: Turn on the heating when you’re headed home
Your home: Turn on the heating when you’re headed home
Entertainment: 10 minute playlists for a 10 minute trip
Entertainment: 10-minute playlists for a 10-minute trip

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.

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