You can now call an Uber like a normal taxi

It’s adding a toll-free phone line, alongside group grocery shopping and more features.

MOZCO Mateusz Szymanski via Getty Images

Uber is really leaning into getting users to collaborate more through a series of new features across its core app and Uber Eats. Many of the updates announced, including group rides and grocery orders, focus on digitally connecting friends and family.

On the primary Uber app, the company is removing any awkwardness for people who don't actually know their friends' addresses by heart (spoiler: almost everyone). Now each passenger can enter their own pick-up or drop-off location after being invited to the ride. According to Uber, other upcoming related features include changes to the stop order based on efficiency and charging each person for however long their part of the journey was.

Uber is also trying a new feature that has never been done before, especially not by taxis: calling to request a ride. People who don't have the app (or a smartphone) can now call the toll-free number 1-833-USE-UBER (1-833-873-8237) to schedule an immediate or future ride in English or Spanish. The rider will then get a text confirming their booking. It's a groundbreaking idea, to say the least.

On Uber Eats, there are two, slightly more unique, updates: group grocery shopping and video messages with gifts. The option for group groceries means that, instead of shouting upstairs to see if whoever you live with needs anything from the store, you can instead invite them to a shared shopping cart. Each person can add deadlines for when they need certain groceries bought, create a recurring order, and send other members a reminder to add what they need. Most participating stores on Uber Eats will also split the bill.

Anyone who uses Uber Eats to send surprises to loved ones can make use of another update the next time they add one to their cart. Gifts on Uber Eats are getting a more personalized touch with the option for senders to record and attach video messages. Right now, this feature is only available for gift cards, but Uber claims it will soon work with anything you send.

These updates come alongside a few family-centric ones, including Uber accounts for teens and car seat requests in select cities.

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