To make the ride-hailing experience even more effortless, Uber is taking the forsaken route of tracking user location data in the background — when the app isn’t open or in the foreground. The latest app update, which introduces the redesign and new features, also changes the way how its service collects location data for commuters, reports TechCrunch.
Previously, Uber only collected the location data from user’s devices when the application was active and you were using it. But the company is now looking to gather location data even when you’ve exited the app — you’ll be prompted to share your current location. Uber just needs your location data from the start of your ride up until five minutes after the driver drops you off.
This intensive location data, the company believes, will enable them to improve their drop-offs and pick-ups — which obviously is one of the biggest known pain points of the ride-hailing service. Each time you (the traveler) books a ride, you have to contact the driver to convey your exact location so that the Uber can come pick you up without any hiccups. The ride-hailing giant is looking to cut down on confusion during pick-ups and provide users/drivers with an accurate way to pinpoint their locations.
Commenting on the addition of this debatable capability, an Uber spokesperson says,
We’re always thinking about ways we can improve the rider experience from sharpening our ETA estimates to identifying the best pick up location on any given street. Location is at the heart of the Uber experience, and we’re asking riders to provide us with more information to achieve these goals.
In addition to tracking your location data for the ride, Uber is also looking to track how often riders cross the street directly after a drop-off. The company sees this as a safety hazard and believes that the rider shouldn’t need to dart through a traffic intensive road to ultimately reach their destination. It is of the opinion that tracking user data for some time after the drop will enable them to figure out if the driver dropped off the passenger at a dangerous (or risky) location.
Now, Uber introducing the ability to regularly harvest location data while the app is running in the background might raise eyebrows but the company reaffirms that it won’t use the capability. The ride-hailing giant says that it just needs some additional location data and constantly asking for access because of device-level permissions was getting tiresome. Uber had already set up base for this change by introducing some important iterations regarding location data to its privacy policies.
But, as one expects, if you as a user are uncomfortable with sharing your location with Uber when you’re now using the application and it is running in the background then you can turn off location sharing from your phone’s settings. Although every time you open the ride-hailing app, you’bb be prompted to share location data with the app to pinpoint your pickup.
Though it might not be the most welcome change but the company has already been instructed by the U.S authorities to transmit and store this data after it has been encrypted and protected by multi-factor authentication. So, you can rest assure that your data might be safe in the hands of the $63 billion ride-hailing giant — who’s taking over the world.