Uber Adds In-App Messaging for Quick Communication Between Riders and Drivers

Uber App screenshot

(Literally while I'm writing this, a black auto driver is leaning on their horn outside my apartment.) Like all tech companies desperately trying to smooth out modern life's rough edges, Uber has a new solution: in-app messaging.

When connected to a driver, a rider should go to the Uber feed and tap "contact" and then "chat".

The in-app messaging feature arose because the SMS method had a number of areas where it was lacking from a user experience perspective, according to Uber Product Manager Jeremy Lermitte. "Drivers can acknowledge that they've read and received the rider's message by simply tapping the 'thumbs up" icon.

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One slightly annoying thing about Uber is that your driver sometimes has to call or text you to let you know they're arriving, held up in traffic or give you some other update about your ride. Uber says that this is a way to ensure that drivers don't get too distracted while they're driving.

The new feature does mean you might be forced to overhear messages from your Uber driver's next rider during your own journey. Both the driver and the rider will receive receipts of their transaction as well.

The app will then immediately alert another driver-partner. And the calling feature could lead to awkward conversations while riders and drivers tried to locate one another.

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"We are in the business of technology; we've introduced many key safety features that did not exist before the introduction of the Uber in South Africa". It's a faster and cheaper experience with no toggling between Uber and other messaging/calls and no voice call or SMS costs. "While some driver-partners have asked for the cash option to be removed, other driver-partners feel the cash option has opened them up to new riders and provides the consumer with more choice". There was no way to be sure that texts from random numbers were actually sent by the driver, or for riders to confirm whether their messages were ever received. Ahead, see more images of how chatting on the Uber app actually works.

The company is also considering adding the chat functionality to UberEATS.

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