How convenient would it be if, with a couple taps of your phone, you could hail a ride, order delivery or get groceries delivered? There are so many apps out there that do all of these, and we’re familiar with the base levels of all of them. We are pretty accustomed to calling up a cab company and having them pick us up. To get delivery, we are fairly comfortable calling a restaurant, feverishly hoping they actually deliver, or we go to Grubhub or some other online service to order the food.

I don’t know how many people have tried getting groceries delivered, but if you have older relatives who live alone, they might know a grocery store that brings produce to their door. These are all well and good, but there are easier ways. There are apps out there that put all of these services at your fingertips. I’m sure you know about Uber, but have you ever heard of their major competitor, Lyft? Have you ever heard of DoorDash? They put a ton of restaurants at your fingertips for delivery. If you want groceries, but don’t want to leave the house, look up Instacart, an app that gets groceries to your door fresh and fast.

I can definitely understand if you haven’t heard about a lot of these services, as they aren’t all available nationwide. Right now, Uber is the biggest app based service, valued at $62.5 billion, but even it isn’t available everywhere. For now, you only have access to all of the above listed services in major cities. This doesn’t mean only San Francisco or New York City, but you probably won’t be able to use them if you live in Beech Grove, Kentucky. I’d definitely check on their websites and see if your city/town is on their listing of served locations.

If you’ve confirmed that a service you’re interested in is available in your area, it’s important to know that each service is different. Let’s start with the ones that get you places.

Currently, the two big dogs in the industry are Uber and Lyft. Both work in pretty much the same way, though the company themes seem to be a little different. With each, you open up the app and say you need a ride. You mark where you’d like to go, and you’re set. In the app, you will see the car you should expect and the driver who will be chauffeuring you to your destination, making the interaction as safe as possible.

Need another great feature? When you sign up with Uber or Lyft, you give them your credit card, so there’s no fumbling around to pay the driver once you get to your destination. The charge is calculated based on your destination and charged so you don’t have to worry if you have enough cash on you. Don’t worry, the app makes sure to tell you the cost of your trip before you confirm that you want a ride.

Once you’re in the car, you are encouraged to chat up your driver and maybe share some stories. Both services use a five-point rating system where, not only do you rate your driver, but the driver can also rate you as a patron. Drivers choose to accept fares that pop up, so if they see a patron with a low rating, they may not be so inclined to accept them.

Now what’s the difference between Uber and Lyft?

Well, Uber currently reigns top dog. They have a more professional and serious vibe about them. The colors are a classic black and silver, and the company is very well modeled to have you feeling like you are riding with a limo service.

Lyft, on the other hand, is a much more jovial company. A lot of their marketing is based on fluffy pink mustaches, which many of their drivers proudly display on the fronts of their cars. The company colors are pink and a fun shade of green to keep the attitude light and cheery.

In function, they aren’t very different though. Both will get you to where you need to be, although Lyft has usually seen some slightly lower pricing.

Say you really don’t feel like going out at night, but you need something to eat. DoorDash has you covered.

DoorDash makes ordering food for delivery very easy, and gives you a sense of safety. You open the app and choose from an extensive list of restaurants in your area. Much like any other online ordering system, you pick what you want, pay and submit your order. Here’s where they differ from standard delivery from restaurants or GrubHub; DoorDash has their own staff of delivery drivers who are standing by, waiting for your order. After DoorDash puts in your order at the restaurant, the drivers will pick up the food and bring it to your door. Again, it is clear who you should expect to see handing you your meal. Just like with the ride services, your credit card is already logged with the company, so you don’t have to worry about the fuss of paying the delivery person. DoorDash makes life very convenient, opens up the range of places you can order from.

Restaurants no longer need to hire a delivery staff but can rely on DoorDash to bring them business, which means that you will be seeing more than the standard expectation on the delivery list! Sounds great for college.

Final situation: You are a student with no car, no friends who have cars and you’ve either missed all the buses to go shopping for groceries or you just don’t have time to go that week. Look no further than Instacart! This lovely service works very much like DoorDash. You essentially pick a grocery store or supermarket, and depending on the store, the Instacart staff will either go shopping for you or will have the store’s staff put together your order, for pickup. The staff member then drives the food directly to your door and hands you the ingredients for whatever dish you have planned for later that week. Sounds like a dream come true, right?

The sad reality is that none of these services are currently available in Rochester. For various legal and political reasons that I don’t have the time or patience to understand, Uber and Lyft are not allowed to operate in Rochester, though there has been speculation that this may change. I don’t know if the same laws are preventing the other services from expanding here, or maybe they just haven’t reached out as they are still new, but hopefully we see them here soon, as they could be invaluable  to students.

Oh, yeah, another thing I forgot. If you have a relatively new car (usually newer than 2000) in good condition, and you need a job that works on your schedule, you could totally work for any of these services. As a driver, you can simply switch on that you are available, and orders begin to transfer to you! There are quite a few people who choose to make their living completely as a driver for Uber, though you can use it to supplement your income however you please.

For now, let’s just keep our fingers crossed that we get them in Rochester soon.

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