What Is Uber Beacon? This New Feature Makes Your Rider Experience Even Better

MADRID, SPAIN - OCTOBER 14: In this Photo Illustration a smart phone displays a picture with the logo of the news taxi app 'Uber' as people walk past on October 14, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. 'Uber' application started to operate in Madrid last September despite Taxi drivers claim it is an illegal activity and its drivers currently operate without a license. 'Uber' is an American based company which is quickly expanding to some of the main cities from around the world. (Photo Illustration by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
Source: Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images News/Getty Images

No matter where you live, it's likely you've used Uber or a similar ride sharing service at least once in the past. Now, Uber's new feature, called Uber Beacon, is potentially a big game changer, making getting picked up even easier than it already is. What is Uber Beacon, exactly? Right now, it's a test feature that allows drivers to shine a light from their windshield so their riders can easily identify which car is theirs. You choose the color on your Uber app, and then keep your eyes pealed for the matching one.This light will be in the shape of an Uber logo — and as Christina Bonnington at The Daily Dot notes, it can even change for events and themes, like Pride. Rainbows galore! 

Personally, I think new features like Uber Beacon are a great way to make car services a little safer. Yes, you should always verify your driver before getting into an Uber or other ride provider; however, Uber Beacon provides an extra layer of security because there's no way to fake the appropriate light coming from someone's windshield if they're not your driver. It's always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your safety.

Does Uber Beacon sound a little familiar to you? That might be because you're reminded of Uber's previous test system, Uber Spot, that launched in Seattle last year. Unlike Uber Beacon, Spot didn't shine the Uber logo; it simply used a light in the driver's windshield. Beacon, however, makes it absolutely clear that the light denotes an Uber ride — and if you're a driver for Uber, here's even better news: The Beacon light is wireless and only needs to be charged once every few days, making it pretty convenient on your end, too.

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But hold your proverbial horses — you may not be seeing Uber Beacon immediately, depending on where you live. According to Uber's press release, the feature will be available in just a few cities in the United States before New Year's Eve, including Nashville, Miami, and Denver; Newcastle in the UK is also on the list, but there's no guarantee that your city will necessarily have Uber Beacon right from the get-go. The plan is apparently to expand the feature in 2017, though, so stay tuned — maybe you won't be waiting as long as you think. 

Most ride-sharing services are already pretty intuitive and user-friendly, but I do think Uber Beacon is going to make the process even easier. We all know how frustrating it is to leave a big event and then struggle to pick out which car in a row of vehicles is ours. And if it's late at night, or bad weather, is there anything worse than trying to squint around at license plates? I mean, sure, it's definitely a small quibble in the grand scheme of things — but anything that makes a convenient car service even more convenient is a win in my book.

Safe travels, everyone!


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