Published: Thu, August 10, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Uber chat lets riders message drivers in-app

Uber chat lets riders message drivers in-app

A post on Uber's blog reads: "Riders and drivers can contact one another using apps outside of Uber".

What remains unclear about Uber's new feature, however, is whether users will be able to continue chatting with drivers after a ride has ended, as pointed out by Engadget. They can simply get in touch if need be using the built-in messaging functionality inside the Uber app. The cost makes both riders and drivers hesitant to make calls, which in turn can lead to cancellations.

Uber announced on Thursday the addition of in-app messaging, which allows you to get in touch with your driver without leaving the app. Currently, Uber does generate a "unique, anonymous local number", if you need to call your driver, but this furthers the separation between the two of you. The driver can also be the first to send a message, but their app will strongly advise them only to do so while stationary.

"In many of our markets, SMS isn't actually available for us, we don't have the technology in place", said Uber Product Manager Jeremy Lermitte in an interview. This is what Uber's new chat function aims to fix.

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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. Uber's already considering trying this feature out for other purposes.

Pulling up the card with the driver's details will now offer the option to contact them, tapping on which will open up a message thread.

Uber has always supported contacting a driver once a vehicle has been assigned, though it's relied on methods outside of the app to actually do so. Implementing the feature in UberEATS seems like the next probable step, and in-app messaging will certainly be part of any of Uber's future business ventures.

Lots of stories with folks travelling internationally where, let's say you land in Paris, and you're in the airport, you don't have a voice plan or a cellular plan setup, you can now just connect to Wi-Fi and communicate with your driver for the pickup.

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