Uber launches in-app messaging for riders and drivers

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(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.

Uber (Private:UBER) launches a new in-app messaging feature where riders can contact and chat with a driver while waiting for a ride. Nevertheless, Uber is trying to fix the nuisance with a new in-app chat feature.

It will be safer for drivers too, as chat messages will be automatically read aloud to them, and they will be able to respond with a thumbs-up message via a single tap on the screen. The global rollout of the new chat feature has begun, so it should reach everyone in the next few days.

Up until now, riders and drivers could contact each other using phone calls or SMS, but it wasn't exactly a seamless experience. That can lead to problems for those who have signed up to Uber with one number but are using a device registered to a different one, or indeed are relying on Google Voice or similar services, since Uber may not recognize the account and thus not allow the text or call through. Ahead, see more images of how chatting on the Uber app actually works. "That's especially true in some of our key markets like Brazil and India". Seeing as this is most likely for convenience and privacy, it's likely that's not going to be the case.

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Riders can clarify the pickup location or provide any other pertinent information. Unfortunately, there was some confusion between us and our driver about where we were to be picked up and, because I was on Wi-Fi, I couldn't call or send a follow-up text message to our driver.

The built-in messaging feature makes a lot of sense when you think about it, and Lermitte says that it's something Uber can offer without requiring significant ongoing overhead to maintain.

Lastly, the feature is expected to be a way to make it easier for global travelers to contact Uber drivers. It's a faster and cheaper experience with no toggling between Uber and other messaging/calls and no voice call or SMS costs.

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