Uber Says Its App Can Now Distinguish Between Business and Personal Trips

It’s based on a staggering amount of data analysis.

byStephen Edelstein|
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Among the many unsettling things about Uber is the massive amount of data the ride-hailing service collects. But Uber is trying to put that data to good use with a new feature that allows its app to predict whether a person is on a business or personal trip.

Many Uber users have business and personal accounts, with different payment methods for each one. When a person is traveling, it's possible to forget to switch between them, according to Uber. So the Uber app will now offer "profile recommendations" based on trip data to help sort between business and personal trips.

The new feature is based on a staggering amount of data analysis. Uber said it analyzed billions of trips each year in aggregate, and was able to teach software to detect "patterns and trends that predict the purpose of a trip." The company estimates that its software will make those predictions with 80 percent accuracy.

Businesses can also assign trip reviewers, managers or administrative assistants who may be more familiar with an employee's usage patterns, to flag potential errors. The reviewer can make changes right in the app avoiding a lengthy email exchange with the employee or other bureaucratic process. Uber said it will also support a wider array of expense-reporting software to make the process a bit smoother.

These updates show that Uber is still focusing on its core ride-hailing business even as it expands into areas like electric-scooter rentals. Uber will have to keep its ride-hailing customers loyal as it faces greater pushback from regulators. New York City recently approved a cap on ride-hailing vehicles, which could set a precedent for other cities.

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