Apps

Uber is the latest popular app to bail on the Apple Watch

Uber has quietly shut down its Apple Watch app, with the software now showing a message that instructs people to “please switch to the Uber mobile app.” The company is “no longer supporting the Apple Watch app,” according to the text, which ends with Uber apologizing for any inconvenience caused by the app’s discontinuation. There’s also a sad face emoji to drive that sentiment home.

As noted by MacRumors, Uber hasn’t yet removed the Apple Watch app from its App Store listing, where it still gets its own tab and screenshots. Presumably, that will all be history once the company releases its next update to the iOS app. The Verge has reached out to Uber for more details, and if I had to guess, the company is likely to cite low usage as the main reason for its Apple Watch exit.

Uber’s Apple Watch app offered basic ride-hailing functionality.
Image: Uber

On the one hand, this is another example of smartwatches continuing to shed apps — even those that are massively popular and borderline essential on a phone — that aren’t core to their purpose(s) of fitness tracking, notifications, music playback, and so on. I’ve long had Uber installed on my Apple Watch, and I don’t think there was a single occasion where I hailed a ride from my wrist.

Uber ended support for its WearOS app more than two years ago, so it’s not like Google’s platform fared much better with user engagement. Lyft has been out of this game since 2018. Perhaps it’s a case where the form factor just isn’t the right match for the service.

The Apple Watch app provided barebones ride-hailing functionality, with more advanced options like splitting fares and sharing an ETA reserved for the full mobile app.

Apple has previously highlighted Uber for the Apple Watch.
Image: Apple

But it also goes to show that, in some ways, smartwatches are only moving further away from being able to serve as a standalone smartphone fill-in — even temporarily. Maybe barely anyone took advantage of Uber on the Apple Watch, but the fact that it no longer exists on the platform at all feels notable.

Want to leave your phone at home for the day and rely on your cellular Apple Watch? You can’t hail an Uber in that scenario anymore. And it’s a use case that Apple itself once highlighted, as you can see above.

Uber continues to offer its primary app for iPhone and a larger version for the iPad.