Uber Debuts API and Partners

Eric Zeman
Aug. 20 2014, 01:08PM EDT

Uber today released an API to all developers who wish to interact with the ride-discovery service. In addition to the API, Uber debuted an Affiliate Program, which will allow developers to earn credits toward free Uber rides. The company has already scared up some big-name partners that have added Uber to their apps.

The heart of Uber's API is the Uber button. Within Uber's own app, the button is the tool consumers use to find and hail a taxi or livery vehicle. The API lets app writers integrate the Uber button into their own offerings, making it easier for users to pass a destination address to the Uber app, display pickup times, provide fare estimates, access trip history and request a ride.

The API may be available, but that doesn't mean companies can add all the Uber functions to their own app. According to Uber, it is only allowing a select few partners to go all the way and add the ability to request rides to their apps. Developers who want to be added to the whitelist for ride requests can contact Uber directly to see about gaining full access to Uber integration.

Uber's initial list of partners is a who's who of travel and entertainment apps. Eleven companies — including Expensify, Hinge, Hyatt, Momento, OpenTable, Starbucks, Tempo Smart Calendar, Time Out, TripAdvisor, TripCase and United Airlines — have already integrated the API and are rolling out updates around the world. What can these apps now do?

Restaurant goers using OpenTable to secure a spot at their favorite joints won't have to tell their drivers where they are going when they are picked up; OpenTable will tell the drivers ahead of time. United passengers will be able to select the closest driver and lowest fare in order to get to the airport on time. Travelers booking rooms via Hyatt's app will be able to request an Uber driver who will take them straight to the hotel with no questions asked. The remaining apps include similar levels of info sharing between services, making it easier for potential passengers to request rides while doing other things.

As for the Affiliate Program, Uber's partners are offering new Uber users up to $30 off their first ride. Further, the Affiliate Program lets partners and developers earn more Uber credits for distributing to customers.

"As excited as we are about this launch," Uber said in a blog post, "we’re truly just getting started. Our team will continue working to add functionality, provide support, address feedback and deliver even more value to our developers."

Eric Zeman I am a journalist who covers the mobile telecommunications industry. I freelance for ProgrammableWeb and other online properties.

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