It has built out Messenger, with features like P2P payments, to compete with its rivals like WeChat
(Updated with quote from Uber)
Of all the moves Facebook has made in the last few years, one that can be called an unqualified successwas its decoupling of Messenger. Since the company decided to go that route last summer, the app hasgrown to 700 million users.
Riding that success, Facebook has grown Messenger far beyond its original function, building it out withnumerous features, including payments and video calling.
Now Facebook has added one very important new feature to the app: transporation, which will allowusers to request a ride without having to leave the app, or having to go and download any servicesseparately, the company announced on Wednesday.
It even has its first partner, and it's a big one: Uber. This partnership has been in the works for a long timeit seems, as there were reports of the two sides talking about this all the way back in July of last year.
To use the feature, all a user has to do is get the latest version of Messenger, then choose Transporationfrom the menu. They can also search directly for Uber. After that it sounds like it works pretty much like theUber app does, with the ability to request, track and pay for a ride in Messenger.
Users will also be able to notify theur friends that they've requested a ride, which is pretty convenient ifyou'e meeting a group of people and you want to let them know you're on your way.
Facebook says that it has plans to integrate any other transporation services into Messenger, but does notmention any other potential partners, though the most other likely candidate being Lyft. It also does notsay when it might plan to do that.
Unfortunately for you, you probably won't be able to access this feature for a while, since it is currently intesting and will be available to select users in the locations where Uber operates in the United States.
However if you are one of the chosen few, there's another perk: you get $20 off your next free ride if youset up a new account, or link your old one to Messenger. I've been avoiding downloading Messenger, butonce this feature becomes widely available I might just have to do it for the free ride!
"Messenger is where 700 million people around the world are coordinating plans with their loved ones or meeting friends for dinner or drinks on the weekend. And all those conversations are happening in Messenger. We want Uber to play a part in bringing those people together in the real world," Rahul Bijor, Head of API & Strategic Initiatives, wrote in a blog post.
"The goal with Uber on Messenger is to introduce our service to people when they need it the most, just as they’re making plans."
Getting transporation integration is just the latest way that Facebook is building out Messenger so it cancompete with some of the other big messaging apps out there, like WeChat, which already integrates DidiKuaidi, Uber's main rival in China.
Earlier this year Facebook announced a free in-app peer-to-peer payments feature on Messenger, whichwas followed by the launch of Messenger Platform in March, which allows developers to createapps that integrate with Messenger. 40 apps were selected, including ESPN, JibJab, Imgur, and Selfied,as well as Joya's apps FlipLip and Cleo.
Facebook also announced Businesses on Messenger, which enhances communications and interactionsbetween people and businesses. The company's initial partners were Everlane and zulily, both in theretail vertical. It currently working with Tieks, Gilt, Fancy, pro.com, Hyattand Rogers. KLM will be available in January of next year.