Uber changed its app Thursday to allow riders to enter an intersection instead of an address as a drop-off or pickup location. That way, customers can give their drivers an easier way to locate them, especially if you don't know the exact address yourself. The feature is also meant to give riders an extra layer of privacy, said a company blog post.
Many “riders have told us over time they prefer not to share any personal information when they Uber. Their feedback: it would help them feel safer and better protect their privacy if the address could remain private,” said Kate Parker, Uber's head of Trust and Safety Initiatives, in a Thursday blog post.
Some users may have already seen the product in testing, but it is now available to all U.S. users.
Rolling out a feature that users have long asked for could be good for Uber as its reputation has taken a beating over the past several months. The company was the target of boycotts in January after customers were angry that Uber continued to serve John F. Kennedy Airport amid a taxi strike protesting a Trump administration immigration ban. Soon after, the company's chief executive, Travis Kalanick, stepped down from a presidential advisory board.
Uber again faced calls for a boycott in February after a former employee accused the company of gender discrimination. In both cases, calls to delete Uber's app resulted in short-term gains for its rival, Lyft, although it's not clear how lasting those effects have been, Recode reported.
Problems continued for Uber when it became locked in a legal battle with Google's parent company, Alphabet, in late February over accusations that a former employee hired by Uber stole its self-driving car technology. A judge ruled Wednesday that the engineer, Anthony Levandowski, would not be able to invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify against himself unless he gave the court a compelling reason, Ars Technica reported.
In court, lawyers for Google's self-driving car unit, Waymo, said that they had evidence that Uber was in contact with Levandowski around the time he left Google, reported the Wall Street Journal. Waymo's lawyers also said that, at that time, Uber had anticipated that it might need to fight a lawsuit over its decision to acquire the engineer's start-up.
More recently, a report Thursday from the tech-focused publication the Information shed light on how intense the rivalry between Uber and Lyft has become. Uber reportedly had a program that tracked drivers from Lyft and also tried to identify which drivers were working for both companies. The program, which Uber stopped using in 2016, according to the report, allowed the firm to see the number of Lyft drivers on the road as well as what they were charging, the report said.
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the program, and Lyft declined to comment.