Menlo Park – Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) has partnered with Uber, the popular transportation network firm. Starting Wednesday, December 16th, Facebook Messenger users living in U.S. cities where Uber is available, will have access to a ride arrangement without leaving the app. The functionalities are still being tested and just a handful of people will be able to use them immediately, but the social media app will soon release them for the public.

Uber’s senior vice president Emil Michael believes the Messenger partnership will bring many benefits because that platform has a tremendous impact on people’s social lives. The first transportation network on Facebook Messenger claims 75 percent of the U.S. population lives in a county where Uber is available.

Facebook Messenger users in the U.S. can now order a Uber ride without leaving the app. Credit: Venture Beat

“Our aim is to be everywhere and if you want to be everywhere, 700 million monthly actives [on Messenger] who are by definition communicating with more than one person is a sweet spot for us,” Michael told Mashable.

Facebook says the two companies want to facilitate transportation arrangements for friends who are texting to each other without having to leave Messenger. They’ll have two options to do that: either they tap on “transportation from the…” menu or on the address shared by a friend on the app by selecting “request ride.” Moreover, a friend will receive a notification when the other requests a ride from that thread (the same applies to group chats). On the menu, they’ll also see options for payments and locations, among other third-party apps.

Mark Zuckerberg’s company affirms this is just the beginning of a wider transportation platform, as it will be soon offering more transportation services within Messenger. Partner names have not been revealed, but there is a plan to team with airlines next year. However, the main focus at this point is to make the features accessible to anyone.

As part of Facebook’s plans to make of Messenger more than an app to chat with friends, it recently launched Business on Messenger, a feature that allows businesses to send receipts, let customers know when packages ship, and provide basic services within the app. Furthermore, the social network firm is currently testing an artificial intelligence-powered personal assistant named M that can perform many tasks on Facebook, which wants users to interact with the world without leaving its platform.

As an attempt to promote the new alliance, Uber is offering a free ride (up to $20) to users who request rides from Facebook Messenger. This promotion is the first one to include those who aren’t new on the platform.

This is not the first step Uber takes to get involved in more third-party services, as it recently released a new program that allows developers to include “ride request” buttons in their apps.

Uber has revealed it’s exploring the idea of live Uber support through Messenger, which means that users will get real-time customer care service from real humans on the app. This feature, however, turns out something like a competitor of Facebook’s personal assistant M.

Source: Mashable