|Uber's self driving car concept. / Photo by: Diablanco via Wikimedia Commons|
Using Google Maps to book Uber rides is no longer possible after Google announced that the service has been discontinued on the Android platform. The iOS version of the said feature had already been withdrawn as early as the summer of 2017. There was no specific reason given why the program was terminated but Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica suspects the feature was the victim of the stormy relationship between Google and Uber.
It is also possible that Google stopped supporting the service because of the spate of negative publicity that tainted Uber’s reputation. The latter is trying to rebuild its tarnished image by rolling out new app features and recruiting new talent. It should be noted that Google has made a US$ 1 billion investment with Lyft, Uber’s main competitor, in late 2017.
Both companies launched a partnership in January 2017 that allowed users to search, book, and pay for an Uber ride directly from a ride-sharing tab found on the Google Maps app. Although the tab supported 17 various ride-hailing services, it was only Uber that was given the privilege of letting customers complete and pay for their transactions without having to leave the app. Such a convenience gave users the option of not visiting the official Uber app, which has been denounced for aggressively tracking the location of users.
Eighteen months after the feature was rolled out, the ride-sharing tab can still be found on Google Maps but instead of allowing users to book an Uber ride, it now only gives users an estimate of how much the ride will cost but they have to go the Uber app to finish their transactions.