Uber Falls in Line With Settings in iOS 11 That Limit Use of Location Services

Uber has updated its iOS app to fall in line with new options in iOS 11 that let users limit an app's use of location services (via The Verge).

With iOS 11 installed, it's possible to restrict the gathering of location data by any third-party app so that it can only access the device's location status when the app is in use.

Uber has faced criticism in the past for tracking users' location even when they aren't using the service, while offering them only a binary choice of either allowing always-on tracking or turning it off altogether.

Uber had argued that the tracking enhanced rider safety and said it restricted tracking to five minutes following a ride anyway, but many users cited the policy as a privacy concern.


With the latest update however, Uber has highlighted the fact that users can elect to share their location "While Using the App", "Always", or "Never". These options can be found in the Settings app under Privacy -> Location Services -> Uber.

These permissions override any third-party app's settings, which should address users' concerns regarding similar behavior.

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Uber to Pull Feature Allowing Riders to Be Tracked for Five Minutes After a Trip

In an effort to better protect user privacy and improve its image, Uber has decided to remove a background GPS tracking feature that allows riders to be tracked for up to five minutes after a ride ends, reports Reuters.

Uber is expected to announce the privacy change starting on Tuesday, with the update expected to roll out to iPhone users this week. The same update will be made to Android devices in the future.


The feature, which was first introduced in late 2016, has garnered a lot of criticism from Uber users. When location tracking is enabled for the Uber app (and location services is required for the app to properly function) Uber is able to collect location data from the time of a trip request through five minutes after the trip ends, even when the app is in the background.

Uber says it planned to use the extra location data to improve pickups, drop-offs, customer service, and to enhance customer service, but the company claims the post-trip tracking feature was never actually turned on for iPhone users.

In an interview with Reuters, Uber chief security officer Joe Sullivan said the update is unrelated to recent internal turmoil within the company, which saw Uber CEO Travis Kalanick ousted from the company.
"We've been building through the turmoil and challenges because we already had our mandate," said Sullivan, who is a member of the executive leadership team that has been co-running Uber since Kalanick left in June.
Sullivan went on to say that the company should not have asked Uber users for more information without providing details on the value of the feature. Should Uber re-enable the feature in the future, he says the company will let customers opt in and better explain why the feature is useful.

According to Sullivan, Uber is committed to user privacy, but has suffered from a "lack of expertise." Additional changes to improve privacy, security, and transparency at Uber are said to be in the works and coming in future updates.

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Uber Updates With In-App Chat Between Riders and Drivers

Ride hailing app Uber today announced an in-app chat feature that lets riders and drivers communicate with one another without leaving the app. Uber said this update allows drivers to better communicate with riders when sudden road closures or other delays happen en route to the rider's location.

Riders can also send chats to drivers to indicate where they're waiting for the car, or give a distinct piece of clothing or accessory to allow the driver to easily identify them.


To do so, riders can navigate to the Uber feed, tap "contact," and then tap "Chat," and when the driver gets the message the app will read it aloud to them automatically so they aren't distracted. A one-tap response feature sends a quick thumbs up to the rider so they know their message was read.
Every great ride starts with the pickup, so we’re always thinking about ways to make the pickup experience as frictionless as possible for riders and drivers alike. That includes helping riders and drivers connect should they need to get in touch with one another to solve for things like road closures, or to just provide information on their exact location.

So we’re adding a way for riders and drivers to chat right in the Uber app. It’s now easier than ever to get in touch.
Speaking with TechCrunch, Uber product manager Jeremy Lermitte said this will help keep user data more private, because drivers and riders won't have to share personal contact information outside of Uber. Additionally, the company is considering adding the chat feature into other apps, including UberEATS.

In-app chat is rolling out globally over the coming weeks to all Uber riders and drivers, and the company described the update as a "first step" towards introducing more communication and messaging experiences within its app.

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Uber’s In-App Tipping Feature Expands to 121 Cities Across North America

Uber in June announced plans for a "180 Days of Change" initiative that added a new long-desired tipping feature for drivers.

Tipping was initially limited to Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston, but Uber said tips would be available to all U.S. drivers by the end of July, and the company is making good on that promise.


Starting today, tipping is rolling out in 121 cities across North America, including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and several cities in Canada. TechCrunch has a full list of all of the areas where tipping is now available.

The tipping feature will continue to expand to additional cities throughout the month of July, and Uber says it is still planning to have the feature available to all U.S. drivers by the end of the month.

Tips are optional for Uber riders, and the tipping screen will show up after a driver has been rated following the conclusion of a ride. Passengers have up to 30 days after a ride to provide a tip, and there are three custom preset tipping amounts ($1, $2, and $5) along with an option for a custom tip total.

Uber long resisted tipping even as competitors like Lyft implemented tips for drivers, with the excuse that it kept the service hassle-free. Uber is now aiming to bolster its public image and improve working conditions for drivers through the addition of tipping and other "180 Days of Change" features, such as a per minute waiting fee for riders, a shorter cancellation window, and a new Driver Injury Protection insurance option.

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Uber Users Can Now ‘Request a Ride for a Loved One’

Uber yesterday introduced a new ride-hailing feature in its mobile app that lets users request a ride for a friend or family member in a different location.

Uber announced the news in a blog post on its website, suggesting the feature would let users "request a ride for a loved one" such as a senior with limited mobility who doesn't have an Uber account or a smartphone.
Now, when you set the pickup away from your current location, we'll automatically ask whether the ride is for a family member or friend. You can then select the rider from your address book, set their destination, and request the ride on their behalf.
Once the ride is on its way, the loved one receives a text message with the driver's details and a link to track their route. The feature also includes an option for the rider to contact the driver directly, and vice versa.

The feature is available now in over 30 countries, with more coming soon, according to Uber. The Uber app is a free download for iPhone available on the App Store. [Direct Link]

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick Resigns

Uber founder Travis Kalanick has resigned his position as CEO, following a series of controversies and scandals that have recently dogged the ride hailing company.

Five major investors demanded Kalanick's immediate resignation on Tuesday in a letter delivered to the chief executive, according to The New York Times. After "long discussions" with some of the investors, Kalanick agreed to step down, but will reportedly stay on Uber's board and continue to hold the majority of voting shares. Kalanick recently took a leave of absence following the death of his mother.

Kalanick at LeWeb Paris (Image by Adam Tinworth)
"I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight," Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.
Uber's board said in a statement that Kalanick had "always put Uber first" and that his resignation would give the company "room to fully embrace this new chapter in Uber's history." An Uber spokesperson declined to comment further.

The ride-hailing service clearly hopes that news of Kalanick's resignation will be perceived as a company reboot, as it attempts to revive its tarnished image following multiple controversies over recent months.

Just last month it was revealed that the Department of Justice is investigating Uber over its use of "secret" software that allowed its drivers to operate in areas where the company was banned or restricted. The so-called "greyball" software is said to have allowed the company to identify undercover officials and block them from booking rides, in order to prevent them from proving that Uber was operating illegally.

In April it emerged that Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to pull Uber's app from the App Store in early 2015 after discovering that it was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app. Uber said it used the identification method to prevent fraud, despite knowing the tactic is a clear violation of Apple's app privacy guidelines. The revelation came in a New York Times article detailing the ride-hailing service's history of controversial business tactics.

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Uber App Gains Long-Desired Tipping Option

Uber today announced a new "180 Days of Change" initiative that's designed to improve working conditions for its drivers and bolster its public image. As part of the upcoming changes, Uber plans to implement tipping, a feature that drivers have long desired.

Tipping is currently available in the Uber app in Seattle, Minneapolis, and Houston, with Uber pledging to add more cities over the next few weeks. Tips will be available to all U.S. drivers by the end of July, says the company.


For end users, when a ride is complete, there's a new option alongside the star rating to add a tip of $1, $2, $5, or a custom amount. The new in-app tipping option is a huge change, as Uber has long resisted tipping with the excuse that it kept the service "hassle-free," even as competitors like Lyft implemented tips for drivers.

Along with tipping, Uber also announced several other changes that are being implemented starting today. Driver Destination trips will count towards promotions and are available for all U.S. drivers, $2 has been added to the base fare for all teen account trips, drivers will earn a per minute fee for waiting over 2 minutes for riders, a cancellation fee will be implemented if a rider cancels after two minutes (it was 5 minutes), and there's a new Driver Injury Protection insurance option offered by Aon.

Uber plans to announce and implement additional changes over the course of the next six months.

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iOS 11 Users to Gain More Control Over Apps’ Use of Location Services

Users of iOS 11 will be able to restrict the gathering of location data by any third-party app so that it can only access the device's location status when the app is in use.

Previously the security setting only applied to certain apps that chose to offer it – as well as to developers wanting to test their own app's use of location data – but it appears Apple is extending the setting for any installed app in iOS 11, potentially handing an additional element of privacy back to the end user.


The new setting in iOS 11 should come as a welcome change for many, given that the use of device location data by some apps has been a point of controversy. For example, Uber has been criticized for forcing users to grant its app full access to location services whether it is open or not, which has been construed by some as creepy or invasive location gathering.

The new setting should also improve the battery life of devices that update to iOS 11, since it puts a limit on the amount of time GPS is activated by apps in the background.

(Via TechCrunch.)

Related Roundup: iOS 11
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Apple Music Marketing Exec Bozoma Saint John Reportedly Leaving Apple for Uber

Last week, news came out that Bozoma Saint John -- Apple Music and iTunes head of Global Consumer Marketing -- was planning to leave Apple, without any indication given as to why Saint John was leaving Apple or where she planned on working next. TechCrunch is today reporting that the former Apple executive is now looking to head to Uber, although her specific role at the ride-hailing company is unclear.

Given Saint John's background in marketing, a similar position is predicted for her at Uber. According to sources, Uber is looking at Saint John's hiring as a way to "turn the tide on recent issues," suggesting that she might be coming in to help shift the negative spotlight placed on Uber in recent months.

We received the news via a tip, and have confirmed the appointment through multiple sources at Uber. The company, we understand, views the appointment as important in helping “turn the tide on recent issues.”

As for what role she will be taking, that’s something we’re still trying to figure out. We understand that Uber will be making more details public later. Saint John’s track record is in marketing — most recently at Apple but also with a long stint at Pepsi, among other places.
Over the past few months public opinion regarding Uber and its company culture has been largely negative online. The backlash against Uber reached new heights in January, when users began a #DeleteUber hashtag on Twitter in response to Uber's decision to keep up and running throughout the strike at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where protesters fought against President Trump's executive order banning immigrants from specific countries entering the U.S.

In addition, Uber's background GPS tracking tactics caused worry by users online last year, the FTC filed a complaint against the company for posting inflated yearly wages on various job-seeking websites, Waymo sued Uber for intellectual property theft, and it came out that Apple CEO Tim Cook was on the verge of removing Uber from the iOS App Store after Apple discovered that Uber was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app.

If she officially joins Uber, Saint John would be one of the newest hires following a collection of departures from the company over the past six months. These include: Brian McClendon (VP of maps and business platform), Jeff Jones (president), Gary Marcus (AI lead), Rachel Whetstone (SVP of communications), Sherif Marakby (VP of global vehicle programs), Ed Baker (VP of product), Amit Singhal (SVP of engineering), and self-driving car head Anthony Levandowski, who was tied to the Waymo lawsuit.

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Uber Fires Engineer Accused of Stealing Self-Driving Secrets From Waymo

In the ongoing legal battle between Uber and Alphabet-owned Waymo, Uber announced this week that it has fired Anthony Levandowski, the engineer accused of stealing Waymo's self-driving intellectual property when he left his job at Google to start his own company, Otto (via The New York Times). In the original lawsuit, Waymo claimed that when Uber acquired Otto, Levandowski's stolen trade secrets came with the purchase, mainly centering around Waymo's LiDAR system.

In the months following Waymo's filing, Uber denied the accusations and "pressured Mr. Levandowski to cooperate" with the court. When he was ordered by a federal judge to give the court any evidence related to Waymo's accusations, as well as a testimony, he was said to have asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid self-incrimination. The judge gave Levandowski an internal deadline to hand over the evidence in question, and when he missed it Uber decided to fire him.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick (left) and former employee Anthony Levandowski (right)

According to legal analysts watching the case, if Levandowski continued to be employed by Uber, "the company risked being tarnished...as if it were indirectly condoning his actions."
“Over the last few months Uber has provided significant evidence to the court to demonstrate that our self-driving technology has been built independently,” Angela L. Padilla, Uber’s associate general counsel for employment and litigation, wrote in an email to employees. “Over that same period, Uber has urged Anthony to fully cooperate in helping the court get to the facts and ultimately helping to prove our case.”

She added: “We take our obligations under the court order very seriously, and so we have chosen to terminate his employment at Uber.”
When the lawsuit was filed in February, Levandowski and "other former Waymo employees" were accused of stealing around 14,000 confidential Waymo files that included data on Waymo's laser-based radar (LiDAR) system, which the company called "one of the most powerful parts" of its self-driving technology. Federal prosecutors began investigating the case earlier in May, while also partially granting Waymo's request for an injunction against Uber's self-driving efforts as the case continues.

Besides Waymo's lawsuit, Uber has also faced troubled waters this year when the Department of Justice began investigating the ride-hailing company over its use of "greyball" software that let drivers operate in places where the Uber app is restricted.

It also came out this year that Apple CEO Tim Cook threatened to remove Uber from the iOS App Store in 2015 after discovering that Uber was secretly "fingerprinting" iPhones that used the app. Uber said the decision was made to prevent fraud, making sure users could no longer create multiple fake accounts on one device to collect new account bonuses, despite knowing that its method was in direct violation of Apple's app privacy guidelines.

Although Uber's self-driving future is uncertain, Waymo has made progress in recent months with the launch of an autonomous car program in Phoenix, as well as the announcement of a partnership with Lyft that plans "to bring autonomous vehicle technology into the mainstream."

Tags: Google, Uber, Waymo

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