The car and ride sharing movements have rapidly evolved over the past several years. It’s commonplace to see Uber name-dropped in the middle of a primetime drama, but that service is far from the only way to catch a ride with someone from your mobile phone. Here are some of apps and services currently available for both Android and iOS.
Let’s start with Uber (Android | iOS), since it is one of the oldest and most widely available options out there. The service now operates in over 50 countries around the world spread across six continents (as big as Antarctica is, it’s not populated enough to justify strapping snow plows to the front of cars). Uber works as an alternative to taxis, where instead of hailing a cab, you take out your phone, enter a destination, and request a ride. You pay through the app, and you can share the trip with friends to split the cost. The experience is formal, with drivers instructed to drive black cars or SUVs and get out to help passengers with doors and luggage.
Lyft (Android | iOS) provides a more casual experience. You still interact with the service in largely the same way – by pulling out the app and requesting a ride – but drivers pull up in more eclectic vehicles marked by the company’s distinctive magenta glowstache. Lyft is only available in the US, and while it supports sixty markets across the country, its domestic reach still isn’t as broad as Uber’s.
Sidecar is divided into two Android apps, one for riders and one for drivers. On iOS, there’s one. The app lets you choose a car, driver, price, and time. Then you watch from the app as the car approaches. Unfortunately, Sidecar is only available in the cities of Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington DC.
Instead of getting someone to drive you around, Getaround (Android | iOS) lets you rent a car from someone nearby. Or if you want to make some money, you can share your car with others. Renters pay an hourly or daily fee and insurance is included. So the next time you’re in Portland or San Francisco (sorry, those are the only two supported markets), consider firing up this app before hitting up the nearest car rental place.
Zipcar (Android | iOS) isn’t about ride-sharing, it’s about sharing cars. Members can drive designated vehicles for as low as $6 a month. One person reserves a zipcar, takes it for a ride, and leaves it someplace where another person can later hop in and hit the road. It’s one way people who like to drive and need semi-regular access to a vehicle can get around the expense of buying and owning a car. Options range from small sedans and hybrids to vans and SUVs. Zipcars are scattered all across the US, parts of Canada, and Europe. Outside of the most supported markets, stations tend to reside near airports and college campuses, which can limit who the service is available to.
As long as you don’t mind sharing a ride or sharing a car, smartphones make it easy to get around major metropolitan areas. Options are best in the US, but a couple of these services have an international presence as well. But no option is available everywhere, so look around to see which one works best for you.
If you have ride-sharing experience, whether as a rider or a driver, chime in with your opinion below!