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New Uber driver app. Photo: Uber

As Uber continues its quest to clean up its “bad boy” image, the company is beginning to roll out a completely redesigned mobile app for drivers.

But why? Earnings is by far the top area of complaints from ride-hailing drivers; just look at the headlines every time Uber or Lyft have cut fares. Uber says a new app is directly related to earnings as it's how drivers do their work. “At the end of the day, drivers just want an app that’s reliable and just works,” Uber product manager Yuhki Yamashita told Axios.

Uber says it focused cleaning up the interface and making sure each feature is more thoughtfully designed, though the new app’s overall concept isn’t much different than its predecessor.

  • A pill-shaped counter at the top of the home screen shows the driver’s earnings, but it can be customized and even hidden altogether (drivers in some countries don’t want their income visibly displayed on their smartphones).
  • Internet connectivity was also considered, which is especially important for drivers in emerging markets. Now, the app lets the driver end a ride after dropping off a passenger even if they’ve lost their connection, for example. The app will simply note the car’s GPS coordinates and update the information when it reconnects to the internet.

Uber spent more than a year on the app since first deciding to redesign it in late 2016.

  • It finished building it in late 2017 and spent three to four months gathering feedback from drivers in seven cities around the world, including Cairo, London, Bengalore, and Sao Paolo.
  • User feedback included local events with drivers to introduce the app, ride-alongs, and even home visits.
  • It's also the first time it's designed an app Android-first (a majority of Uber drivers globally use Android phones).

But, but, but: A shiny new app is unlikely to solve all the company's issues with drivers, and it will have to continue to make policy changes that improve other aspects of the job.

Go deeper

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.