Uber has added a new feature on its app, which allows direct communication via chat between the drivers and passengers. This negates the need to send an SMS to the driver or make a phone call informing them of your location. This also save riders from sharing their personal contact details with the drivers and vice versa.
The chat feature will be available right after you book a ride, and will allow you to type in your precise location immediately. In order to keep the drivers undistracted, the app will read out the message for them.
The Uber app for drivers also makes it clear that the messaging feature should only be used when the vehicle is stationary and not while driving. Drivers can simply send a thumbs up emoji to confirm that the rider’s message was received and understood.
Uber explains that this feature was necessary given the many hurdles it faces with regards to SMS and phone calls. “In many of our markets, SMS isn’t actually available for us, we don’t have the technology in place,” Uber Product Manager Jeremy Lermitte said.
“That’s especially true in some of our key markets like Brazil and India. And then in other emerging markets where we do offer SMS, we don’t have the technology in place to anonymize the personal contact info, so the rider and driver are actually sharing their personal contact information in some of those markets,” Lermitte added.
Uber also explained how in-app messaging makes sense during international roaming when calls and text messages are hard to make or simply too expensive. However, WiFi hotspots are easy to find in international destinations, especially at airports.
It is said that Uber is looking to add VoIP calls in the future to ensure seamless communication between the driver and the rider. The new in-app messaging feature is rolling out globally starting right away. Uber has added a bunch of new features over the past few months, but this particular feature will no doubt change the way people use the app going forward.
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