Facebook partners with Uber to let users order a taxi through Messenger
Facebook has announced a partnership with Uber that will allow users in the US to order taxis through Facebook's own Messenger app.
The new integration wraps all of Uber's features up in Messenger - payment, maps, and alerts when the driver is nearby.
Next month will also see the beginning of an integration with Lyft, a rival taxi app that's currently only operating in the US.
A typically minimalist video has been released alongside the announcement - in a group chat, one user posts their address and tells the others to come along to their housewarming.
Simply by tapping on the address and selecting 'request a ride', the user gets an Uber without having to juggle multiple apps.
It's a simple service, but one that could make planning and transport much easier - and significantly, is another step in Facebook's journey to try and make messenger the all-in-one online communication tool that the rest of your internet experience will go through.
Back in October, Facebook director Julien Codorniou told Wired that Messenger was "one per cent finished".
Explaining his ambitious concept, he explained: "One day there will be companies built on Messenger, and we are at the beginning of that ecosystem."
Facebook is trying to emulate the success of WeChat, a messaging app popular in China. WeChat started off as a simple messenger platform, but expanded hugely, eventually becoming integrated with a number of other companies and services.
Much of the communication that we do online - whether that's talking to friends, making purchases from businesses, or ordering goods, can be done through WeChat.
Now, WeChat users order taxis, takeaways, make purchases and buy film tickets entirely using services located inside the app.
Facebook wants to do the same with Messenger, turning it into an all-in-one portal that will let you connect with friends, local businesses, big companies and everyday services like Uber.
It's an amibitious (and slightly dystopian) vision, but this partnership with Uber is an important step, especially considering that 1 million journeys take place in 290 cities through Uber every day.
To sweeten the deal even more and encourage users to make the switch, Facebook is offering a free ride to people for the first Uber they order through Messenger.
Uber launched in Belfast last Friday. Currently, the Facebook option is only available in US cities where Uber operates, but given Facebook's amibitions, it wouldn't be surprising if it made it to the UK and Ireland soon.
Independent News Service