Uber China is now very different from Uber in the rest of the world

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Worawee Meepian/123RF
Uber has been unceremoniously booted from China.

Now that the San Francisco transportation giant is no longer the master of its own domain in the China market (Didi Chuxing is currently in the process of acquiring the company’s China arm), its app no longer works in the country, either. Consider this an official breakup.

It’s been a long time coming, to be sure, as Didi announced its acquisition of Uber China four months ago. But the termination of the app is a bit jarring nonetheless, and if you’re an international traveler, highly inconvenient. At present, if you want to use the Didi-operated Uber in China, you’ll have to download a separate Uber app. So while the rest of the world uses one tool, Chinese passengers will have to use another.

The app was developed in conjunction with Didi, and while its aesthetically comparable to the Uber app we’re accustomed to, there are a few notable differences. For one, it requires a Chinese phone number and a Chinese payment method. Sure, that’s fine for permanent Chinese residents, but if you’re a tourist or simply visiting the country for a short period of time, you may not be able to use the app, or the ridesharing service, at all.

And to make it even more China-centric, the new Uber app has completely eliminated English from its interface. Although Didi noted that it’s working to make the app a bit more internationally friendly (by adding different languages and accepting different payment methods), it’s still unclear when such changes would come to pass.

The changes were initially announced in October, but now, making the switch to the new app has become mandatory in the country. “We apologize to our users for any inconvenience [that] may be caused by this transition. The Uber China team has been working hard to make the new version faster-responding and more user friendly,” Uber China/Didi said in a related statement.

Farewell, Uber in China — we hardly knew you.


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