Facebook wants to make it easier to plan get-togethers with friends without having to leave your chat conversation. The social network announced Wednesday that users will be able to request an Uber ride directly through Facebook Messenger.
There are two ways to access Uber while in Facebook Messenger. First, if your destination’s address has already been mentioned in the conversation, you can simply tap it to order a car. Second, selecting the “More” option in Messenger, which looks like three dots in the toolbar, will take you to the new transportation option.
If you use Uber often enough through Messenger, a car icon will appear in your toolbar automatically along with buttons for changing the font and other shortcuts. You don’t need to have the Uber app installed on your phone to use the service through Messenger, Facebook says. To use Uber via Messenger, you could either link your existing account to Messenger or create a new account from within Facebook’s chat app.
Once an Uber is ordered, the conversation thread you’re currently in will say so, which Facebook says can make it easier for friends to know when you’re heading out to meet them. Uber in Facebook Messenger also includes other features found in the car service’s main app, like surge pricing notifications and your ride’s ETA. There’s no way to split the fare between multiple passengers, but you can send money to friends separately through Messenger.
Facebook is also offering a deal for a limited time that gets users a free $20 Uber ride the first time they order through Messenger.
Uber is Facebook Messenger’s first transportation partner, but the company says there are more announcements to come in the future. Facebook has previously said it’s testing Messenger integration with Dutch air carrier KLM, which would allow customers to view their flight details in a chat bubble in the app. Changing a detail would be as simple as sending a message through the app.
Re/code first reported Facebook’s plans to integrate Uber into Messenger in July of last year.
The Uber tie-in is an important step for Facebook as it continues to expand its Messenger app beyond a basic means of communication. The social network said earlier this year that it’s building out Messenger as a platform in its own right, adding features like the ability to interact with businesses’ customer service teams through the service. Facebook’s strategy appears to hinge on keeping users in its own apps rather than having them use other companies’ software.