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Friday, July 10, 2015

Google's New Rideshare App Knows Where You're Going, Even If You Don't

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 9:29 AM

click to enlarge Unsuspecting passengers. - WASHINGTON STATE DOT/FLICKR
  • Washington State DOT/Flickr
  • Unsuspecting passengers.
The tech world is taking notice as Google begins testing a new rideshare app: RideWith.

While the market for ridesharing technology may seem glutted, with major competitors like Uber and Lyft having already staked out formidable market penetration, Google’s app leverages its vast troves of data and artificial intelligence software to give consumers a far deeper experience — not only giving them a ride, but telling them where they’re going, what they’ll do when they get there, and when they'll come back home.

“I hadn’t realized I needed to go to the store to buy eggs,” said Joseph Mendel of Tel Aviv, a city where Google is testing RideWith. “But then the car showed up and my Android devices wouldn’t function until I got in. I was driven to the market. And not my nearest market, either. Apparently, RideWith wants me to buy organic.”

Mendel was complimentary about the way his grocery list automatically populated his Gmail accounts, “whether I liked it or not.”

“I thought I’d get to go home after that, but Google is taking me to the dentist now,” Mendel said. “Also, I just got a notice that my phone is going to hang up on you and call my office instead …”

RideWith boasts a host of other features: drivers will refer to passengers by their first names, ask about their family with a creepy level of demographic detail, and offer cream for the rash they just Googled yesterday.

A Google spokesperson arrived via RideWith to talk to SF Weekly after phone records notified her that this story was being reported. 

“Uber can take you to the bar on 16th Street just fine, but it can’t tell you that you should really be going to The Interval instead, because your old girlfriend from high school is drinking there now, and she just broke up with her fiancé,” the spokeswman said, her every word automatically transcribed into a Google Doc that opened on our phones upon her arrival. “RideWith, on the other hand, will take you both to an affordable hotel without even being asked.”

She added, “Don’t worry about whether you can afford it. RideWith knows what you make.”

If it is successful in test cities like Tel Aviv, Google will expand RideWith to other cities by early 2016. No need to sign up: You will be automatically enrolled.

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