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Uber And Snapchat Team Up To Zero In On Your Friends

Uber says Snapchat will get information about the ETA, vehicle type and destination, but no private data, to create special filters for riders.

Updated at 6:42 pm to add details of Snapchat's access to location data.

Uber has fixed a problem you didn't know you had. Instead of setting places as the target location, Uber's newest feature will let you set people as the destination.

Instead of typing a location in the "Where to?" box, Uber wants riders to type the name of the friend they are meeting with, and the app would route the ride to them.

The upside: You don't have to have that "where are you? where should we meet?" conversation. The downside: Once your friend confirms their location to Uber, the location becomes locked in as "static" and the friend better not move.

But that's not all! To entertain you on your ride and your friend during the "static" wait, Uber will now prompt the rider to send a Snapchat to the waiting party — if they already have the social app — complete with custom filters that can relay estimated time of arrival and, for some reason, what type of Uber you're in.

For Uber, it's the latest effort to keep users engaged with its app during the ride. But the partnership between the two tech companies, continues to raise questions about what these kinds of moves mean for collection and sharing of data they learn about us.

Earlier this month, we reported that Uber has changed how it collects user data to begin tracking rider location data even when the application is just running in the background, no longer offering the option of having location tracked only when the app is being used.

With the new change to people as destinations, riders must grant Uber access to their phone contacts to travel directly to their buddies. Names of contacts will auto-populate in the destination bar, much like recent locations do.

According to Uber, syncing contacts to the app is not new. Previously, riders could sync contacts for example to send invites to the app or share trip information.

Uber also says it will not continue to track the location of the destination-friend after the ride ends, and the originally recorded static location would expire after 30 minutes.

The ride-hailing company says it will not be sharing any personal information of the rider or the friend with Snapchat. Instead, Snapchat will receive the details it needs to offer up its special filters: the ETA, the Uber vehicle type and information about the destination.

Snapchat, for its part, says it doesn't get any location information from Uber, but itself can locate the person using the app, if that user has given it such permission in settings.

When asked about the reasons behind the tie-up, both companies say the point of this partnership is fun.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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