Unlike, say, Uber or Lyft, SoMo allows users to plan trips based on events and friends. For example, if everyone is going to see a concert, they can coordinate in the app and carpool. SoMo also has more traditional ride-hailing characteristics.
The app combines all transportation — public, private and personal — and lets users see all options at once.
“SoMo is the bridge to today’s sharing economy,” said Liad Itzhak, head of HERE’s mobility unit. “Consumers should have freedom of choice in how and with whom they travel. That’s why SoMo brings people together based on common social interests and mobility demand, whether they’re traveling to a holiday party, basketball practice or a Beyoncé concert.”
SoMo aims to be as simple as possible. Users provide the app with a telephone number and add a profile photo, then they’re ready to use it. The interface provides two options: “create a ride” or “create a gathering.” The “create a ride” option works just like a standard navigation app, such as Google Maps or Waze. Users can also choose a “bus” tab to peruse public transportation options. “Create a ride” also lets users invite friends or acquaintances on trips, and provides all participants with trip details, such as time of arrival. The app uses real-time intelligence to optimize routes against driving conditions for the day.
Another aspect of the app is its “Mobility Marketplace,” which looks for taxis and other on-demand transportation options. The company plans to eventually add bike shares, helicopters and more.
So far, there is no plan for Uber support, but a spokesperson told VentureBeat that the company would welcome the ride-hailing giant if it was approached to do so.
“We believe that everyone that shares the same vision of building a competitive mobility ecosystem will want to join,” the spokesperson said. “The few players who will choose to try and build a monopolistic position and eliminate competition in the market will probably choose not to join. It’s up to each service provider, including Uber, to decide how they see the future of mobility.”
In addition, HERE announced it was developing an in-car navigation system that would be powered by Alexa. It would be called HERE Navigation On-Demand, and geared toward car manufacturers as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Basically, the system would operate on top of the car’s already existing services. HERE said it will be a “voice-first car navigation experience that keeps users focused on the road.” The software will make use of Alexa Auto, a development kit Amazon released last year.
HERE wants to make it seamless to work with mapping services throughout a user’s day, which could, for example, allow people to set reminders to do errands, then have the service guide them through an optimal route.