Google has been quietly testing a new carpooling app based on its popular Waze navigation service that will compete with Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing apps. Waze Rider is now open to the public in San Francisco.
A reporter with The Wall Street Journal used the app to travel from San Francisco to Oakland. The ride cost just $3 thanks to an early launch promotion, and Google paid the driver $6.30.
Waze Rider is definitely still a work in progress. WSJ notes that the driver’s location wasn’t visible before pickup, which is a standard feature for Uber and Lyft. Even stranger, the driver apparently couldn’t use Waze to navigate during the ride, which seems like a pretty big issue.
Google is also limiting drivers to just two passengers per day. That may allow the company to skirt some of the regulations that other firms have to deal with. The service doesn’t require a background check, proof of insurance or even a picture of your car when you register as a driver, for example.
Waze Rider sounds like a significantly cheaper alternative to Uber and the current crop of ride-hailing apps, but its relaxed standards may be a turnoff for some. It’s still limited to the San Francisco area, too, and there aren’t details on when it might expand elsewhere.