Apps to Watch: Uber for smartwatches

Uber Apple Watch App

Uber is probably the most well known of the various ride-sharing services around the world, with millions of users in dozens of countries. Despite the company’s ongoing problems with incumbent taxi firms in places like Paris and Connecticut — and various legal battles regarding whether drivers should be classed as employees or contractors — it’s obviously a very popular service that makes getting from A to B more convenient for many people.

Uber on Apple Watch

Uber for Android and the iPhone is a well-established app, but the company also launched an Apple Watch version of the app a couple of months ago. Unfortunately where I live, Uber doesn’t provide any services, but I recently took a trip to Bangkok and tried out the iPhone and Apple Watch apps.

Bangkok taxis are notoriously plentiful, but also extremely cheap, but there are times when it’s just quicker to book using Uber, especially late at night or in areas where there aren’t as many taxis.

The Apple Watch app, as expected, lets you order a car with a single tap on the wrist – as well as the ability to check progress and receive notifications when the driver arrives. All that without even having to pull out your phone. Besides Bangkok, Uber is also available in more than 50 countries, so you can pretty much guarantee that anywhere you’ll find Apple Watch wearers, you’ll also find Uber.

Uber Apple Watch App

Uber on the Apple Watch will also remember your last selected vehicle option and payment method – though you can change those settings prior to the subsequent journey via the Uber app on an iPhone. And since the pickup location uses GPS, an iPhone is also required to provide the correct location.

Uber Apple Watch AppHowever there are a couple of limitations on the watch: uberPOOL, Split Fare, Share my ETA and Contact Driver are not available on Apple Watch. Additionally, users are advised to check their receipt, because the amount that Uber quotes is not always the amount charged to your credit card.

But for most people, the limitations and small user interface are acceptable for the convenience of just tapping your wrist to be taken to where you want to go.

With WatchOS 2, due this autumn, Apple is set to improve many aspects of the Apple Watch, with native apps and various tweaks to the UI and functionality. Apps such as Uber are only going to get even better with time, but for the moment Uber is still in my opinion one of the superior (and most useful) watch apps.

If you have used Uber on Apple Watch, share your experiences with us in the comments below…

By Roland Banks

Roland Banks has been passionate about mobile technology for the past 20 years. He started his career at British Telecom's research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world's first mobile video services. More recently he enjoys writing about his obsession, and developing software that helps mobile operators analyse their subscriber data.

Roland has lived in Asia for the past 5 years, and tries to indulge his other passion for riding motorcycles whenever possible.

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