Connect Ahead of the Pickup with In-App Chat

Uber adds in-app driver-rider chat facility for greater convenience and privacy

Before, messaging your driver was a bit of a hassle; riders have to select "contact" then "chat", which then takes you out of the Uber app and into a new texting conversation. A single tap on the app will send the rider a thumbs up emoji, acknowledging the message has been received. Chats received by the driver will be read aloud to them so as to minimize distraction when they're behind the wheel. (Literally while I'm writing this, a black vehicle 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. Previously, communicating with the driver required a phone call or text message ... There, they can shoot a quick text to their driver about their exact location, or whatever else helps facilitate a smooth pickup. The obvious solution to this problem has finally arrived, as Uber has developed an in-app messaging service.

In an interview with TechCrunch, Uber product manager Jeremy Lermitte explained that one of the driving factors behind this switch to in-app messaging was complaints from customers and drivers without cell-phone plans.

Spokeswoman Charity Jackson said the new feature will be rolled out in the coming weeks.

The company is also considering adding the chat functionality to UberEATS. Provided they can connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot, which is pretty much always the case at airports and other travel hubs, they'll now be able to communicate with their driver.

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Another reason why Uber has added a chat feature to its app is because some markets only have limited SMS or call plans.

"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 though some people aren't fans of read receipts, the feature will show to both riders and drivers whether or not the other person has seen - and read - the chat.

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