Facebook Messenger users will soon be able to order an Uber ride without leaving Facebook’s communications app. The new feature was announced by both companies Wednesday.
Facebook said that the new feature is still being tested and will only be available to some users in the United States. If you are lucky enough to test it, your first ride will be free–as long as it costs less than $20.
How will you access the new feature? You can click the “more” button (the ellipsis icon) and select transportation. The more button usually offers a list of GIF makers, stickers, apps and filters along with a way to send a current location. But now, it will include three categories: location, GIFs and transportation.
Clicking on the “Request a ride” suggestion or on an address inside of Messenger guides you to a different screen where you can order a vehicle, set your destination and see your driver traveling to you.
Facebook will also provide a way for Uber to communicate their updates to riders through Messenger.
“We’re trying to bring expressive content communications,” said Rosenberg, as he tapped on a message.
Previously, Messenger users would have to close that app to open Uber’s app to make the booking instead of staying in the app. “The goal here is to introduce our service to people when they need it the most, just as they’re making plans,” said Rahul Bijor, Uber’s head of API and strategic partnerships.
“This is also the honest way to tell friends that you’re actually on the way,” added Rosenberg, laughing. Here, he was referencing that once you’ve ordered a ride, that information was greyed-out with the Messenger conversation.
The new feature allows Facebook to hold onto its audience of about 700 million monthly users while giving Uber a larger audience to pull in new customers.
This new Uber partnership is a major step in Facebook’s goal to become a kind of WeChat of the west. The Chinese messaging app WeChat has been a big role model for Facebook. In 2014, WeChat was already helping with 21 million rides through its partnership with Didi Kuaidi, a car-hailing service, TechinAsia reports.
Uber and Facebook have been working together on the project for a few months. “The stars aligned and we realized this fit with both our strategies,” said Bijor.
“There are still a lot of people out there who haven’t used Uber yet, and this is a great way to get them. And it’s also part of our broad strategy to make Messenger really useful,” Rosenberg added.