Ordering an Uber is one thing. For drivers and passengers trying to finding each other at a pick-up point is quite another.
On Thursday, the ride-hailing giant announced it is about to unveil a new in-app chat feature that is designed to make it easier for drivers and riders to get in touch. The chat allows both parties to chat directly within the Uber app rather than using outside sources or text messaging, said Jeremy Lermitte, Uber Product Manager.
"Today riders and drivers can contact one another using apps outside of Uber, but these texts can lack context - is this random number my driver? How do I know if my SMS was received?," he said.
With the new feature, parties can talk to one another in real time without having to share their phone number, he said.
Here is how it will work. 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. When a driver receives a chat from a rider, the message will be read aloud - that way the driver can keep his or her eyes on the road. The driver can then respond with one tap of their device to send a thumbs up to the rider.
Both the driver and the rider will be able to see their messages and that the other party has received them.
"This is our first step towards leveraging real-time messaging to enable seamless communication experiences for our customers and help them connect in both the digital and physical worlds," Lermitte said.
Spokeswoman Charity Jackson said the new feature will be rolled out in the coming weeks.