Uber is on a mission for global domination. The ride-hailing app isn't just expanding to just about every country you can think of, it also wants other apps to add Uber as an option--within reason, of course.
"We believe that any app with a map is a potential Uber API partner," the company said in a Wednesday blog post.
Well, that's pretty broad. You can count out other ride-sharing apps. TechCrunch noticed that Uber's API forbids third parties from using an Uber competitor's API. Lyft hasn't opened its tools for developers, but car-hailing app Hailo rolled out its own API on Thursday.
Uber picked 11 partners to launch its API, which will allow third-party developers to bake Uber into their own apps. That doesn't mean those partners have to add ride-hailing, especially if it doesn't make sense to use them that way. In the case of Momento, your Uber trip history will show up in the life-logging app's timeline of your life. Event guide Time Out will show various Uber options for getting to fun places.
But other partners don't make much sense. Do you really need to hail a ride to the nearest Starbucks? Let's be honest, there's one on every corner. You should probably just walk. We spent some time dreaming up new API partners besides the 11 that Uber already announced--some apps are logical fits for Uber integration, while others would be pretty ridiculous.
The best use cases
Yelp: Have you ever read a restaurant review that made you want to jump up and go out to eat right this second? I rarely read game-changers like that on Yelp, but if I do, being able to tap the screen and get a car at my door in minutes would be great news for my growling stomach (and probably bad news for my wallet).
Foursquare: Now that Foursquare follows you around, the app should be able to sense when you've been standing in line at a popular restaurant for an hour. Or two hours. (Not that I've ever done that.) A useful push notification would go something like: "Are you seriously still waiting for an artisanal grilled cheese? Why not Uber over to this other cool restaurant that serves similar food and rarely has a wait?"
Facebook: I confess to being one of the few people who still uses Facebook check-ins to let friends know where I am. While Facebook was reportedly looking at Uber integration for its Messenger app, I think the network should think bigger. My friends should be able to tap my check-in and hail a car straight to my location. Put Uber in Facebook proper and watch the number of on-demand rides soar--and so will the number of credit card numbers at Facebook's fingertips.
Airbnb: I usually pick my Airbnbs because they're in neighborhoods where my fellow tourists won't be staying. But that puts me at a disadvantage when I arrive in an unfamiliar city, because those apartments are on side streets in areas that cabs don't frequent. With Uber integration, I could get a ride from the airport to my Airbnb. And now that Uber lets riders enter their destinations, drivers will know exactly where they're going and how long it will take to get there.
These apps don't make sense
Public transit apps: I'm not sure if this is ridiculous or makes complete sense--apps that tell you when the next bus or train arrive should also say, "Yeah, the next 38-Geary bus isn't coming for another 45 minutes, so Uber is your best bet." I'm sure everyone would be grateful.
Untappd: Apps that let you log your beer and wine purchases are useful when you want to remember a great bottle down the road. But a few of my friends have fallen victim to beer-finding app Untappd's tweets on their behalf, which broadcast to the world the drinking badges they've collected and the bottles they've purchased. What if social drinking apps logged your beer count and then told the world you had to hail an Uber home? It's better than drinking and driving, but also pretty embarrassing.
Waze: Some have suggested that traffic app Waze would be a natural fit for an Uber option, to which I say: No. People use Waze to tell them which routes to avoid. Seeing a traffic jam wouldn't prompt you to call a ride so much as tell you how to get around the crush of cars. But maybe--no, definitely--Uber drivers would benefit from seeing Waze on their phones.
Flappy Bird: Who says Uber integration has to be useful? Apps could take the partnership to a whole new level with gamification. Developers could take advantage of players frustrated with Flappy Bird or the similarly difficult Swing Copters by enabling in-app purchases. Can't get to the next level? Buy your bird an Uber to coast straight through (surge pricing: 10.75x). Watch your online bank account dwindle and your score skyrocket.