Uber launches in-app chat feature

Uber launches in-app chat feature

Instead of calling your Uber driver and getting no response - or trying to find your vehicle in a sea of other people looking for their Uber - the company is bringing a chat feature to the app. The new feature replaces the somewhat clunky mechanism of SMS for text communication between rider and driver, helping to preserve privacy for both sides in all markets, and cutting down on potential confusion.

"Today riders and drivers can contact one another using apps outside of Uber". Drivers can also initiate chat, but the Uber driver app cautions directly in the messaging window that drivers should only do so when stopped and not actually driving.

As nice as this may seem, one obvious concern when it comes to texting your driver is that ...well, you're texting your driver. Once a rider has been assigned a driver, the rider can go to the Uber app and tap the "content" button and then the "chat" button. There will be no need to do or bear any of that now because Uber has added an in-app messaging feature to its app.

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Uber has been adding more and more to its app over the years, like calendar integrations, offering to use friends as destination locations, and even Snap Inc.'s (SNAP - Free Report) Snapchat filters.

On the driver's side, these will be read aloud when received, and they can then acknowledge they've seen the message with a single tap to send a "thumbs up".

The rollout of the new messaging service begins today in the United States, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and India, with Europe and the rest of the world coming over the next several weeks. Some might be entering a different country without worldwide roaming plans, making it impossible to contact Uber drivers. "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 told TechCrunch. Now, all they need is to connect to a Wi-Fi connection, which most airports already have, to contact their drivers. Uber also wants to improve the voice-calling experience-"It would be a logical next step", said Lermitte-although the company said it has nothing to announce on that topic.

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