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Google gets into ridesharing biz with Waze’s ‘carpool-powered’ RideWith app

Jul 06, 20154 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

Google entered the ridesharing business as Waze launched its “carpool-powered” RideWith app for limited trials in Israel.

Google snapped up Israel-founded Waze for about $1 billion two years ago, but now Google is entering the ridesharing business as Waze launches its “carpool-powered” RideWith app.

While RideWith may eventually offer other similar services some competition, the concept behind RideWith is different than that of Uber and Lyft. “We think Uber X and Lyft are services that work well. We ourselves use them all the time,” Waze said last week. Unlike Uber drivers who earn a profit, RideWith drivers will not earn a salary and each driver is limited to two trips a day – traveling to and returning home from work.

“We’re conducting a small, private beta test in the greater Tel Aviv area for a carpool concept,” Waze told Reuters before adding that there will likely not be enough drivers at first. As more drivers join RideWith, the service will be unlocked “user by user when we believe we can provide quality service along your route.”

RideWith carpool by Waze is available on Google Play, but only for users in Israel. Waze said RideWith is currently available only as a limited trial during rush hour in Gush Dan region of Israel. You ask for a ride via the app and it “notifies you when a ride is found with a Waze commuter who drives in your direction.”

“RideWith will calculate the cost of gas and depreciation based on route mileage and suggest an amount,” but RideWith users can decide upon a different amount to “pitch in” to cover gas and wear and tear; a driver can accept or decline the rate and ride. Riders will be able to view their driver’s profile and view the vehicle in real time via the app as it approaches the rider for pick up. Riders are charged as soon as the ride is completed. Waze will reportedly receive 15% of what the driver earned.

An exclusive in Haaretz gave more details about how RideWith works:

Passengers who want to share a ride will have to enter the addresses of their homes and their workplaces and the times they wish to travel. The application will match them up with a driver who follows the required route at the desired times by means of Waze, which will send the relevant driver an alert asking whether he is willing to pick up passengers. The alert will be sent only to relevant drivers, whose route to work is known on Waze to overlap with the passenger’s. If indeed a driver is found who is prepared for the shared ride, the passenger who has requested the ride will receive prior confirmation. In addition, the passenger will be able to look at the driver’s route in advance and in real time.

The match will be made in a way that requires of the driver minimum deviation from his usual route. The driver and the passenger will be able to set up the ride in advance, so that the passenger will know, at least by the evening before, that the next morning he will not need his own car or public transportation. The ride home will be set up in a similar way. The driver and the passenger will be able to contact each other before the ride by means of the text messaging system in the application. To maintain the privacy of the sides, Google will not reveal their full communication information and they will be free to disclose their identity themselves. Google will ascertain, using the sides’ email addresses, that these are people who work in the same geographical area.

Despite all the ruckus about Uber, people just keep on using it. If you use Uber and haven’t paid attention to its privacy policy, then you need to do so before July 15 when its tracking capabilities really start being invasive.

Waze has not escaped all criticism as cops have worried Waze speed trap warnings could be used by cop stalkers and police killers. Yet after the RideWith trials in Israel, it’s likely the service will come to the US. Who knows though as Google may cut out the driver altogether and launch a different app that utilizes rides provided by its driverless cars. For right now, however, RideWith is available for Androids with Google planning to eventually roll out the app for iPhones.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.