Peer-to-peer car rental startup (and TechCrunch Disrupt winner) Getaround is built around the idea of helping customers to make use of cars they own, which are sitting around not being driven most of the time. Also, to help those without cars to quickly and easily gain access to one that’s sitting around and actually use it.
And so the startup is introducing a new iPhone app aimed at simplifying the whole process and providing its users with better tools for finding and driving away cars nearby. The new app was designed from the ground up, introducing new features and making the thing a whole lot faster.
For one thing, the Getaround app now allows users to browse and search for nearby cars without having to already be signed in. That will let more potential car renters check out the service before committing to actually signing up — even if in this case ‘signing up’ means clicking on a Facebook Connect login.
Getaround has also added filters to help users find the cars they want. Notably, the app now lets you filter by the way you’ll be able to access the vehicle. Getaround has three methods of rental: There’s the traditional key hand-off method, which tends to be slower and less efficient. Then there’s the ability to access cars that have been equipped with Getaround’s carkit, which essentially enables users to unlock the doors remotely through the app. Even so, those cars still require sign off from the owner before they can be rented.
And then there’s Getaround’s quickest mode of rental, which is Getaround Instant. These are cars which are equipped with the car kit but usually managed by Getaround and can be rented at any time. Being able to filter out cars that don’t have a car kit installed generally means faster rental time — although they might be somewhat more expensive.
The app also has a totally rebuilt interface as well, including a more visually appealing map, which will also (hopefully) be helpful in finding cars nearby. And behind the scenes, Getaround has worked on its API to make the whole thing faster and more reliable. Whee.
Getaround was founded in 2009, but really didn’t launch until May 2011. It’s now operating in five cities, including San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Chicago and Austin. The company raised $13.9 million in funding last summer from Menlo Ventures, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, A-Grade Investments, and Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, as well as Collaborative Fund, SOSventures’ Sean O’Sullivan, Correlation Ventures, HotelTonight CEO Sam Shank, Yammer CEO David Sacks, Saba Software CEO Bobby Yazdani, Hoteles.com founder Matias de Tezanos, Clarity.fm founder Dan Martell, and .CO CEO Juan Diego Calle.