UberEATS’ standalone food delivery app launches in its first U.S. cities

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UberEATS, the newer, standalone app for Uber’s restaurant food-delivery business, is today launching in its first U.S. markets: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The U.S. expansion was announced earlier this year when the app made its initial debut in Toronto. Uber says many more markets are planned to go live on the new app in the near future, too, including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

New York will be the next to go live on the UberEATS app; its launch is planned for as early as next week.

When Uber first expanded into the food-delivery space in 2014, it had users on its flagship application toggling a slider over from ordering a car, like an UberBLACK or UberX, then selecting UberEATS instead. But the company realized that didn’t make sense — requesting a ride and food are different experiences. That’s why it decided to roll out UberEATS as a standalone mobile application.

Uber tells us they took a cue from Facebook in terms of how to market the app to users. When Facebook decided to break out Messenger as its own application, it pointed users from the main application to the App Store download for Messenger when they navigated to the app’s “chat” section. Similarly, Uber’s main app has also been used to point people to the App Store download for UberEATS.

That strategy proved fairly successful when the app launched in Toronto. It reached No. 4 in the Food section on its launch day, we’re told.

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With its arrival in U.S. cities, customers will be able to order delivery off the full menus of hundreds of restaurants, or they can choose to get something more immediately off the Instant Delivery menu, which involves the curated menus that can be ordered from more quickly.

The full menus are available in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco in the U.S., and Toronto. Users in the other cities where UberEATS’ Instant Delivery is live can still today download the UberEATS app, but will only see the Instant option until their city comes fully online, the company explains.

The standalone application, for those who are able to take advantage, lets you browse through the popular dishes from area restaurants or search by cuisine and meal (breakfast, lunch, dinner). You can also search for restaurants by name, if you know they’re supported in the app. As you browse, the app will show you estimates for how long it should take your order to arrive and, once placed, you can watch your driver’s progress on the map, much as you can with Uber proper.

The app is a free download on the Apple App Store and Google Play.