Google Maps’ App Adds Alternatives to Booking an Uber Ride
Google Maps just became the ride-hailing app you always wanted.
Google on Thursday said that it was adding ride-hailing services Lyft and Gett in the U.S. to its mapping service. A button for ordering a Lyft ride will now appear inside the Google Maps app along with a similar one for ordering a Gett ride in New York City, the only U.S. city where Gett operates.
The move gives users more options in Google Maps beyond Uber, which was already available through Google Maps in addition to other transportation options like public transit, walking, and driving. Gett was previously available for U.K. users.
Users who already have Lyft, Gett, or Uber on their phones will see fare estimates and pickup times in the Google Maps app when they search for an address. From there, they can select a ride-hailing service and be taken to its mobile app so they can immediately request a ride.
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Although Uber’s inclusion in Google Maps was intended to make the Maps app more useful, adding other services like Lyft make the service more comprehensive. Naturally, several other companies have tried to create a similar one-stop shop for ordering rides. One company, Corral Rides, a now-defunct San Francisco startup built one such aggregator in 2013, but it quickly ran into trouble after it lost access to both Uber and Lyft’s data (which it got without permission).
This, of course, raises the question of how Google was able to do this. It turns out, Google, along with others like Facebook, formally partnered with Uber, so its rules for independent outside developers don’t apply, according to a Uber spokeswoman. A Lyft spokesman offered a similar explanation, but declined to comment on whether it has a financial arrangement with Google.
Citymapper, a mapping app similar to Google Maps, also offers fare and pickup time estimates for both Uber and Lyft, because it has partnered with them, like Google.
The timing of these new additions to the Google Maps app comes amid a recent chilling in the relationship between Google and Uber. Less than two weeks ago, Google head of corporate development, David Drummond, confirmed that he had quietly stepped down from Uber’s board several weeks prior due to increasing conflicts of interest (Google is experimenting with its own carpooling service). David Krane, the new head of GV, the venture capital arm of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has also reportedly been getting cut off from information from Uber, presumably for competitive reasons.