A day after announcing its Family Profiles feature, which allows users to add up to 10 people and pay for their rides, Uber made clear one key use for that feature with the advent of another. That second feature, Trip Tracker, allows users to follow along on their phone as a member of their Family Profiles takes an Uber ride.
Together, the features seem aimed to allow parents — especially those who might otherwise fear doing so — to send their kids alone in an Uber while keeping a digital eye on them. TechCrunch reports that the features have been available and popular in Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix, and now are live wherever there's Uber (more than 450 cities in 70 countries).
"The feature is designed to give families an extra feeling of security by letting their loved ones know where they are while riding Uber, the route they are traveling, and exactly when they've arrived safely," an Uber spokesperson told CNET.
Anecdotally, my aunt tells me that San Francisco parents like her were disappointed when Shuddle, a similar service specifically aimed at transporting children (with rides hailed by parents and tracked on their phones) shut down. As that company abruptly closed in April, having run out of money, she and others were left to debate whether or not, or at what age, to allow their children to use Uber or Lyft from their own phones.
The timing here for the introduction of Uber's Trip Tracker and Family Profiles could be coincidental, or it's possible that Shuddle (or its would-be investors) saw Uber coming with this feature. Or, of course, there's a chance that Uber saw the gap after Shuddle bit the dust.
Regardless, maybe now parents will set aside those Uber horror stories and perish thoughts of perceived background check lenience to hail their kids an Uber or two.