Uber has announced a few new and updated features that should make things easier for riders on its service this Holiday season. Last-minute gifters or those with no idea what to get somebody can now send a friend or loved one some Uber credits directly within the app. You can now also share your location with your driver in real time, within a few meters, making it easier than ever for them to find you. When it comes to you finding them, the Beacon feature that puts lights on drivers' windshields in some markets is now expanding out to new areas and getting the ability to let customers set a driver's beacon color for easy identification. Finally, giving guest rides has been tweaked to a degree with the goal of making the entire process more straightforward.
Live location sharing is one of the biggest changes being rolled out with this batch of updates, and it's incredibly easy to use. Simply tap the gray icon at the bottom right of your screen inside the app, and you'll be sharing your location with your driver. The Beacon option is expanding to New York City, Chicago, and San Francisco just in time for the Holiday season, and the Uber app will now present riders with a color wheel to choose the color of beacon they want to look for on the road, accessed via an icon on the bottom right side of the screen that pops up when the Beacon screen is up.
Some changes that are more directly useful for the holidays are also on board. Guest rides, for example, have been tweaked, and are now easier than ever. Users need only tap on "Where to?" in the app and then choose who will be taking the ride. The rider-to-be will receive an SMS message with ride details and will be able to communicate with the driver themselves to coordinate pickup. This makes transporting loved ones who may not be able or want to use the Uber app easier than before. To send someone who does use the app some credits as a last-minute Holiday gift, or any other time for that matter, just go in the app's menu, tap "Send a gift," and you'll be able to choose the recipient and amount of credits, and even enter in a personal message to send with the gift. All of these changes will help make using Uber for holiday transport one of the easiest possible options, the San Francisco-based startup claims.