Alexa's new feature lets your Echo speaker announce your Uber Eats order updates

Wondering where your Uber Eats order is? Alexa will soon be able to tell you. Amazon today announced a new partnership with Uber that will give Echo device owners the ability to track their Uber Eats orders via Amazon's voice assistant. Starting later this month (update: it's now live), Uber Eats users will be able to turn on a new order-tracking feature that lets them get updates via their Echo smart speaker, depending on their preferences.

Amazon has struggled to get users to adopt its third-party voice apps, known as Alexa Skills, as Echo users tended to use their devices for basic tasks, like setting timers, playing music, or controlling their smart home. The Uber integration could push Alexa device owners to try something new, as it would see Uber marketing the order-tracking feature in its own app, helping drive adoption.

When the update goes live, users will be able to turn on a new "Track with Alexa" option in the Uber Eats app's Voice Assistant settings. Then, after checking out with their food order, they can tap a new Alexa button to start tracking the order's progress.

Image Credits: Uber Eats / Alexa

There are a couple of ways Echo owners can receive the order-tracking updates. They can choose the more traditional notification method, which changes the Echo's blue ring light to yellow, and customers can respond by saying, "Alexa, what's my notification?" This is similar to how Alexa users may check in on their Amazon delivery updates, for example.

The other option would allow Alexa to actually announce when there's a status change to the order to either one or all the household Echo devices. This way, the Uber Eats customer doesn't have to keep checking their phone to see where their order is, as Alexa will announce when the food is ready, when it's picked up for delivery, and when the driver has arrived at their house.

Alexa will also announce when something changes with the order, like if it was canceled for some reason.

Uber worked closely with Amazon on how the feature should work. It decided to make the feature something the user has to enable on each order, rather than something they turn on at the account level. The latter, the company believed, could have risky downsides.

"For example, imagine a customer who has placed an order for a sandwich, but forgot they had turned on hands-free notifications with Alexa. And now imagine that they had a sleeping baby at home," explained Uber Eats lead product manager Ethan Hollinshead, in a blog post. "Or imagine a scenario where someone places an order while traveling, only to have Alexa provide notifications to everyone back home."

The new experience instead combines the convenience of having Alexa alert you to updates on an opt-in basis, but without the troubling downsides of an always-on integration. You can choose on each order whether you want Alexa's alerts.

The feature, which joins Uber's other integrations with Google Assistant and Siri, is now rolling out to Uber Eats' U.S. customers.

Updated, 5/5/23, 9:30 AM ET to note the functionality is now live.