Uber expands to text-only service with an SMS API

As we wrote earlier this month, Uber was able to build their taxi enterprise through the successful implementation of APIs, including an SMS API. Now, the company recently announced that they're expanding their service to an SMS-only option.

The company announced that it will be launching TextBer, a text-to-ride service that will be used in conjunction with Uber's existing, low-cost alternative, UberX.

"The main Uber platform is only targeting people who have smartphones," said Josh Huang, one of TextBer's creators, in a statement. "We realized a lot of the elderly and lower-income populations don't have smartphones."

Huang was dead-on in his assessment. According to a Pew Research study in April, 50 percent of adults in the U.S. making under $30,000 a year and only 27 percent of U.S. adults 65 and over own smartphones. By identifying one of the key aspects of text messaging, that it works on nearly every cell phone, Huang and his team created a platform for the already wildly successful Uber to expand their service even further.

That thinking is exactly why Uber chose their product. Huang and his team were among 60 students and alumni of the tech school Coding Dojo who competed in a "hackathon" hosted by Uber last month on the school's San Jose campus. Participants were given 48 hours to create projects that expanded Uber's offerings while having a positive community impact.

Huang's team developed a new SMS API that would integrate with a website for sign-ups. Users go online to create an Uber account with a valid credit card and then link their phone number through TextBer. Once the account is established, users send a text message to the service with their pickup and drop off addresses. Drivers will then respond with time and price estimates. Users select which diver they prefer simply by responding to the text and then wait for their cab to arrive. 

This is another example of the power an SMS API can have. With the SMS API from Swift SMS Gateway companies can easily leverage the speed and convenience of text messaging.