Everyone who converts from cabs to Uber tends to rave about the pricing and service. But one thing that Uber is not so great at is customer privacy. The company has come under fire before for allegedly following customer’s rides and tracking location data from smartphones when you’re not using the app.
So although Uber’s new “Calendar Shorcuts” feature sounds superficially useful, it might be worth thinking about whether you want to give Uber access to your entire calendar.
The new feature, which is rolling out today, allows riders to integrate their calendar with Uber’s app, if they so wish. Once you’ve done that, an upcoming calendar appointment will automatically appear in the Uber app as a destination, saving you the hassle of a few clicks.
It’s an obvious move for Uber, which is always trying to cut down on the “friction” between thinking about going somewhere, and stepping into an Uber. But it raises obvious privacy concerns: although the data might be anonymized or stay on your phone for now, Uber’s shown a tendancy to use all the data at its disposal to enhance the service. Best case scenario, it’s easy to see Uber using an algorithm to parse calendar appointments, predict demand, and pre-emptively assign drivers (or enable surge pricing) to handle a rush of Saturday night dinner appointments.