Uber on Tuesday announced an interesting new feature: The ability to request Uber rides for other people, even if they don’t have the Uber app on their phones.
In a blog post, Uber describes the feature as a tool that could benefit seniors, as their children could simply call Uber rides for them. Of course, a side effect of this is that more people will be using Uber, so whether or not it does end up helping senior citizens, it also has an effect on the company’s bottom line.
The feature works like this: Every time you set up the pickup away from your current location, you’ll be asked whether the ride is for a family member or friend. You’ll have to select that person from your address book, as Uber will send a text message to the rider with details about the ride and a link to track the route.
Although all of the images on the blog post show off the new feature on a smartphone, the rider doesn’t need to own a smartphone to use the feature. As long as they can receive a text, they’re good to go.
But the feature is not limited to family. So one could buy Uber rides for non-Uber users, which could be turned into Uber clients in the future. There’s nothing wrong with Uber looking for more customers, but the presentation of this new feature, available today in 30 countries, makes it look far sweeter than it really is, which is a way to get more people to use the service.