Uber has had a complicated relationship with its drivers. The service allows many people to earn a living (or some extra cash) on their own time, but the popular start-up has clashed with some who want to be classified as employees rather than contractors.
With that in mind, the company's latest app update is focused on helping drivers get the most out of their time on the road. "Many drivers say they choose Uber because they want to be their own boss, set their own schedule, and get work at the touch of a button," product managers Maya Choksi and Ryan Fujiu wrote in a blog post. "But we have also heard from drivers … that there are plenty of things we can do to make driving more empowering and worth your while."
Driver Destinations, for example, lets users input their journey's end—the office in the morning or home at night—and Uber will then only send trip requests that fall on those routes. "Driver Destinations is all about making it easier to fit work around your life—not the other way around," Choksi and Fujiu wrote.
Driver Destinations has been available in a handful of cities thus far, and this week Uber is expanding to more than a dozen US cities, with more coming online soon.
For those who need a coffee break, meanwhile, Uber is adding pause requests. Hit pause to stop receiving new requests, instead of having to decline riders; then press the button again when you're back on duty. The feature will be piloted later this month in several US and international cities.
Uber is also experimenting with reimbursing drivers for wait times that exceed two minutes. The company reports positive results—more prompt riders—in test cities.
Additional benefits include Instant Pay (get paid as often as you want for free using a GoBank Uber Debit Card), Greenlight Locations (in-person assistance in 250-plus global locations), and ride discounts (deductions for drivers as passengers). Operators are also encouraged to check out Uber's new blog for drivers, Behind the Wheel—"your one-stop for news that affects you and information on driver products and perks," the company said.
The move comes as Uber is facing increased pressure from rival Lyft, which recently secured a $500 million investment from GM.