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You can now book an Uber ride without a phone for the first time

  • Uber rides are now bookable without a smartphone at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.  The company launched the kiosks earlier this month, with inspiration from similar ones at its driver hubs. There’s no word yet on future locations.

For the first 10 years, Uber was more or less useless to those without a phone. But that’s finally starting to change.

Earlier this month, the ride-hailing giant rolled out a kiosk at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport that allows passengers to to book a ride without a smartphone. The company says it’s designed to create greater access for travelers who might have a difficult time using the app because of language or tech issues.

Much of the technology in the kiosk is similar to what’s used in “green light” hubs, where the company on-boards drivers, one of the designers of the Toronto kiosk said on Twitter. Those same kiosks have also been used in malls in the San Francisco area. 

“One influence for the Uber kiosk came from arcade games, which, compared to a PC at home, creates a social environment inviting others to help the primary user,” Anurag Agarwalla, head of Uber’s innovation team for its technology services group, said in a blog post. “That attribute, along with a live support representative, brings in a human element we wanted to highlight.”

There’s no word yet on what locations might be next, but the company says it hopes to use them to increase access at high-volume venues.

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