Uber is Preparing to Release an API

Eric Zeman
Aug. 13 2014, 03:25PM EDT

Uber is prepared to release an API. The company doesn't have one yet, but is working on it and it should be available soon. Exactly how the API will work is open to speculation, but the possibilities are enticing, for sure.

Uber pairs people with cab or delivery drivers. The popular ride-finding service makes it easy to score a taxi, as well as make payments directly from within the app via PayPal or credit card. Users can request rides and get picked up in minutes. It even allows users to compare rates and see fare quotes from different drivers.

The crux of using Uber is its "Request a Ride" button. That's the link between you and a potential lift. One press can send a taxi your way in no time.

What, then, will Uber's mystery API do? The most realistic possibility would be for Uber to allow for integration with third-party apps. For example, Uber might allow other apps to link to Uber and even go so far as to add the Request a Ride button. TechCrunch believes this is what Uber's API will do, though Re/Code believes Uber is working with Facebook and its Messenger application.

This strategy could benefit Uber immensely. Buying an Uber can be a splurge item or impulse purchase for some people. It generally costs more than the rates you'd find if you hailed your own taxi. Uber has already added similar functionality to Google Maps, which floats a "Get an Uber" button when viewing destinations. Pushing that same functionality to local search apps, entertainment apps and more could attract more users to the service. For example, were Uber to work with Ticketmaster, event-goers could buy tickets to a concert and schedule their ride to and from the show all in one step.

This scenario benefits Uber, but it's not clear how it will benefit Uber's potential partners. Uber would have to entice app-makers somehow, whether it be a cut of the fare or some sort of referral fee.

These and other details remain unknown at the moment. TechCrunch believes Uber's API will arrive as soon as September. Uber declined to comment on its API plans.

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

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