Uber is today fixing one of the most glaring issues with its mobile app – messaging. Starting today, the cab hailing service is rolling out an update which will add a native texting feature for a more hassle-free communication between the rider and driver. The company says it is primarily doing so for eliminating the use of the cumbersome SMS system.
The messaging feature works just as you’d expect – post the new app update, whenever you book a ride, a chat option will appear allowing to send any necessary information such as your appearance to the driver. The chat window will also show the driver’s name, vehicle type, and the plate number. In addition to that, read and delivery receipts are enabled as well so that you would know for sure if the recipient has received the texts.
To avoid any sort of accident, Uber has included voice dictation on the driver side which will read aloud incoming messages and allow the person to acknowledge with a tap to send a ‘thumbs up’ emoji response. Drivers can, of course, initiate the chat but the app will pull up a caution for warning the driver not to type while driving.
Uber says the most prominent reason for this addition is that a ton of users relied on SMS previously for interacting with their driver. Furthermore, these text messages can be cost sensitive if the user is on a limited plan and in some cases, drivers don’t have voice plans at all. SMS also restricts the sender from any kind of confirmation whether the recipient has received the message. Roaming charges are a factor as well if you’re, for instance, a tourist.
“In many of our markets, SMS isn’t actually available for us, we don’t have the technology in place, 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.”, stated Uber Product Manager Jeremy Lermitte.
The new messaging update will gradually roll out to Uber’s app in the coming weeks globally.