Uber and The Washington Post: Integrations are the Future of Apps

With new integrations like Uber Trip Experiences, what it means to be an app enters its next phase of evolution

We’re always looking for new ways to serve our readers and meet them wherever they happen to be. In keeping with this focus, we’ve launched an integration with Uber’s Trip Experiences API. This new feature shows live trip status and arrival times inside The Washington Post Classic app for iPhone — making it easier than ever to catch up on the day’s news while knowing the status of an Uber trip.

We’re really excited about what experiences like this mean for the app ecosystem as a whole. Similar API integrations are indicative of a new wave of capabilities for apps, and we think it’s important for all developers to consider how they’re going to make a home for features like this in their applications.

The full Uber trip experience, in Washington Post Classic.

What is an “app”?

In order for us to best serve our users, we have to always be considerate of the environment in which our products live — specifically, the mobile app ecosystem. This environment has changed greatly, almost incredibly, since it burst to life ten years ago. And the rate of change is only increasing.

Some of this change comes directly from the operating systems (iOS and Android) themselves, like notifications and widgets. Others come from the ecosystem of apps built-on-top, like sharing to Facebook or Twitter, bots on Facebook Messenger and now Uber’s Ride Requests and Trip Experiences APIs.

As time passes, then, the bar for what it means to be an app in the first place (or indeed a world class online player in general) gets raised. Now, an app on iOS can’t just be a well-designed silo — it might want an app for Apple Watch, or a Notification Center widget, or integration with Maps or Messages or Photos. Apps are not just stand-alone products but sets of features, tools and experiences across a range of surface areas.

The Next Step: Integrations

Services like Uber are showing the way with their suite of APIs. It’s a meaningful opportunity to integrate them in a way that makes sense for our users. We know from user research that our readers tend to switch back and forth between The Washington Post app and the Uber app when they’re on an Uber ride. They like keeping an eye on their trip status and estimated time of arrival. We think it’s our responsibility to provide that added context to make our app a more seamless news consumption experience.

As we’ve been using it internally, it’s become second nature to expect this from other apps, and our frustration when we don’t find it is an indicator of why we think things like this will catch on.

We think that, pretty soon, integrations like this will be everywhere. Apps that don’t keep the user’s context in mind and that don’t integrate with each other will start to seem broken, or even worse — old.

Integrate with Uber by responding to the in-app prompt (also available in Settings). Once authenticated, readers will see the Trip status bar above the Tab Bar while on a trip.

Plans for the Future

These forms of integrations are largely why we’re excited to work with Uber on this and in future experiences. To introduce and test this feature, in the coming months, we’ll drop the paywall for users on Uber trips during our initial rollout period. This means new and casual readers can read articles during their commute or on their way out for the night for free. This could be one of the best ways truly gauge how a feature like this can help our readers.

The future of apps is as bright as ever. This next phase of mobile could really reinvigorate the ecosystem and provide many opportunities for app innovation.

Download The Washington Post Classic app for iPhone here.

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