Facebook’s Messenger continues its push to dominate your social life.
The latest target? Transportation, with the messaging app launching a new transportation platform inside of the app. Facebook’s first partner on the platform is Uber, and, beginning Wednesday, people who live in cities in the U.S where Uber is available can arrange rides directly from the app. (The features are still in a testing phase so not everyone will have access to them immediately, though the social network has plans for a wider rollout in the future.)
The idea, Facebook says, is to make it easier for friends to make plans with each other by offering a way to arrange transportation without the need to leave the app.
Right now, Messenger users have two options to grab an Uber from a message thread: You can select “transportation from the “…” menu (where you’ll also find payments, location and other third-party apps). Alternatively, if a friend has shared an address, you can tap the address and select “request ride.”
Additionally, if you’re messaging with a friend who requests a ride from that thread, you’ll see a notification that they requested a ride.
While hailing rides from within messaging apps is commonplace in Asia, where a handful of apps dominate social activity, it’s fairly unusual in the United States and Europe. Where Facebook’s approach is unique, says the company’s VP of Messaging Products David Marcus, is in its ability to keep the experience a social one, rather than using Messenger as a means to an end.
“A lot of the other things that are happening in Asia, it just so happens that everybody is on a messaging app and then they create a platform that uses mainly HTML 5 and embedded web flows, which honestly wouldn’t be palatable for the West,” he tells Mashable, noting that expectations for user experience and app design differ in Asia and the U.S.
“We’ve truly woven the experience inside of conversations, and the thread paradigm persists, and that’s a really important part of how we’re thinking about things over here.We want to make sure whatever we build on Messenger or enable third parties to build, it’s always in the context of a conversation or a thread.”
Uber has also recently stepped up its efforts to be a part of more third-party services. The company debuted a new program for developers that allows them to add ride request buttons into their apps.
The ride hailing company’s senior vice president, Emil Michael, says the Messenger partnership is particularly significant for the company because of the social aspect and Messenger’s massive reach.
“Our aim is to be everywhere and if you want to be everywhere, 700 million monthly actives [on Messenger] who are by definition communicating with more than one person is a sweet spot for us,” he tells Mashable
To promote the new integration, Uber is also offering a free ride (up to $20) for those who grab ride from within Messenger. Unlike the promotions Uber frequently offers, which give a free ride for new users, this deal will also be apply to those who already have an account.
As with many of Facebook’s recent efforts with Messenger, the company says this is only the first step of what will be a bigger transportation platform. Eventually, the social network plans to offer access to more transportation services within Messenger. Though Marcus declined to name future partners, he said there is a plan to partner with airlines in 2016. He previously told Wired its first airline partner would be KLM.
It could also have bigger implications for M, Facebook’s experimental assistant feature within Messenger. Marcus says the focus right now is to make the new transportation features available to everyone, rather than the few who have access to the still “very experimental” M, but, he says, that could change at some point.
“It’s not crazy to imagine, over time, M could help you get transportation to the place you want to get to.”
Source : www.mashable.com
Author : Karissa Bell