Uber Invite Developers to Build Apps for Customized Passenger Distractions

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Uber, the huge ride-hailing service, delivers millions of rides to passengers .

Now the company wants to give people something to do while they’re in the car.

On Tuesday, Uber introduced a way for smartphone app developers to create “trip experiences”

for riders. The idea, the company says, is to give riders tailored information and entertainment

during their time in an Uber vehicle.

Uber gave a few examples of how it might look. Upon entering the vehicle, riders could receive

a quick news briefing or perhaps be served with a music playlist built to last the length of their ride.

“What if developers could also offer users of their apps new ways to enjoy themselves —

or get stuff done — while they’re on the road?” Chris Saad, head of product on Uber’s developer

platform, wrote in a company blog post. “These integrations help make life simpler and easier

for people to get around.”

Uber has long been selective about how it works with partner apps and companies.

It has struck deals with Facebook, Foursquare and OpenTable to allow users to hail rides from

inside the companies’ apps. Uber is also working with a handful of retailers in some cities for its

delivery service, UberRush.

For Uber, the goal is to make the user experience more pleasant than a usual ride, which may in

turn drum up repeat business and affinity for the company’s brand.

The company has struck similar partnerships in the past, such as one with Spotify in which users

can select the songs being played during their Uber rides.

This approach invites developers to work directly with Uber to submit and test their ideas,

but Uber will have final say over whether a developer’s trip experience will be allowed.

It is a different, more cautious approach than that taken by companies like Facebook and Twitter,

both of which have had strained relationships with third-party developers in the past.

The announcement coincided with Uber’s first hackathon in Bangalore, India, where the company

is soliciting developers for new integration ideas. The company expects that the first trip experiences

will not appear for at least a few weeks, depending on how quickly developers submit, test and release

their ideas.