Uber is testing a service that will allow Toronto residents to order food from their favorite restaurants through a standalone application called UberEats.
That name might seem familiar. That’s because Uber’s been testing the service, which was previously limited to a handful of meals, inside the main Uber app. Now it’s giving users in one city a chance to determine whether or not UberEats can stand without being propped up by the popularity of Uber’s core service.
Not that the two can really be separated: Food ordered through UberEats will be delivered by Uber drivers who might be ferrying passengers at the same time. Uber’s strength lies with that network of drivers (at least until self-driving cars take to the streets) and their willingness to drive around non-humanoid objects.
UberEats is Uber’s first standalone app. Whenever the company experimented with other services in the past, whether it was delivering puppies or fiddling with a healthcare service, it did so as an addition to the Uber app people already use. Now, as the company told Wired, it wants to give UberEats room to breathe.
Toronto users can order food through UberEats between 10am and 10pm seven days a week. Right now the company is said to support the full menu of “over a hundred” restaurants in the city. The service’s Instant Delivery menu, which is available in the main Uber app, offers fewer options but much faster deliveries.
Deliveries from UberEats will be free until 2016. After that it’s not clear how much Uber intends to charge for the service, or whether it will be subject to the same “surge pricing” model that raises the cost of booking a ride with its main service when there’s inclement weather, high traffic, or, previously, emergencies.
UberEats is said to have taken three months to develop. So while the app seems like the realization of everyone’s belief that Uber will eventually move essentially anything, it’s hardly a bigger commitment than its other experiments. If you’ll pardon a food pun: Let’s not mistake an appetizer for the main course just yet.