Uber adds cross street pickups and drop-offs for more user privacy

Uber has been testing a feature that allows riders to specific a nearby intersection instead of having to enter an actual address for a pick-up or drop-off point, and now that’s rolling out to everyone using the app in the U.S. The feature allows you to type in two street names in the app’s address fields, and it’ll even autopopulate major intersection options nearby.

The decision to implement this feature came from feedback that users wanted an option to preserve more of their privacy while requesting a ride via Uber. You could always have moved the map and dropped a pin, or simply typed in a nearby address if you wanted to obfuscate your real end or starting point, but Uber says that while some took advantage of this option, most did not, and yet it has still been clear that riders were looking for an easier way to protect their privacy.

“One interesting area of feedback that we’ve heard from some consumers, and some riders and drivers, is that in certain scenarios they’d love to be out and Ubering but not overly share their personal information,”explained Kate Parker, Head of Trust and Safety Initiatives at Uber, noting that this has helped inform features like driver to rider calls facilitated without revealing phone numbers, and a reporting system that protects the identity of anyone submitting feedback from those on the receiving end.

“If you’re headed to a park, and you don’t know the exact address of the park, you can easily just put in the cross-streets and get to where you’re going, and that’s easier for drivers to navigate,” Parker said. “They have confidence that you want dropped off on the corner and then they’re able to facilitate that better.”

Uber’s implementation of cross street identification is still new, and will improve over time, the company says. It’s useful not just for protecting your home address, but also for keeping private destinations more private, so you don’t need to share that you’re headed to the doctor’s office, for instance. It’s a small but likely welcome addition on the user side, and one that arrives when Uber needs to reassure customers it has their best interests in mind, given the difficulties faced by the ride sharing company regarding its leadership, corporate culture and some business practices including competitor monitoring programs.