Facebook Messenger sure is getting crowded. Add a car icon to the bottom of the app where you write your messages because you will soon be able to request an Uber within the app.
The Messenger app will now actually show a car icon above the spot where you type messages, and will also house a “Transportation” option when you tap the three-dot menu. It doesn’t explicitly say “Uber” because the ride-sharing service is Facebook’s first transportation partner, which means similar services could be coming soon. Once you grab the latest Messenger update, all you have to do is connect your exisiting Uber account or set up a new one within Messenger. The payment system is powered by Braintree, a division of PayPal, and uses a tokenization system so that your financial information is not transferred to Uber and Facebook.
Tapping the icon requests a ride, and you will receive updates on the driver’s status and the feature will notify whoever is in the chat that you have a ride on the way. The integration is pretty handy, as it even lets you pay for the ride through the app, as well as keep track of your ride and payment history. So if you’re a heavy Facebook Messenger user, you don’t exactly need the Uber app. But if you’re not the sort to share your transportation details with friends or family, you should probably keep it around.
You can also share your current Uber trip with people through Messenger to notify them when you’ll arrive.
Techcrunch is also reporting that Uber is planning to use Messenger as a test case for real-time customer service. Also, while Uber’s API for the Request Ride Button has a policy that does not allow competing ride servicess, the private integration with Messenger doesn’t apply, and Lyft could arrive on the messaging service as early as January.
With the new integration, Facebook and Uber are offering users a free ride, up to $20, for the first time you use this feature, and you don’t need to be a first-time Uber user.
Unfortunately, the new service is still in testing and will be available to certain users where Uber operates in the U.S., but Facebook says more countries and partners will be available soon.