Uber adds in-app chat feature between drivers and riders

Uber is adding in-app messaging

Previously, communicating with the driver required a phone call or text message ... Both the rider and the driver will be able to see whether their chats are delivered and read.

Uber is starting to roll out a new in-app chat feature globally today, which will allow riders to send text messages directly to their driver once they book a ride, and vice versa.

"Regardless of where they are located - whether it be the Cleveland, Chennai or Cartagena - riders and drivers won't need to share their phone number with one another when they need to get in touch", Lermitte wrote. The cost makes both riders and drivers hesitant to make calls, which in turn can lead to cancellations.

For drivers, Uber made sure to caution them against texting while driving, and should only message riders when stopped. 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. A rider will simply have to go to the Uber app and tap on "contact" and then "chat".

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Riders can clarify the pickup location or provide any other pertinent information.

"Every great ride starts with the pick-up", Uber's Jeremy Lermitte wrote in a blog post on the new feature. On the driver side, received messages will be read aloud to help minimize distraction, and drivers can acknowledge a message with one tap to send a "thumbs up" emoji response. Seeing as this is most likely for convenience and privacy, it's likely that's not going to be the case.

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. Rather than placing a call or sending a message with your phone's default service, there's now an instant messenger client built right into the Uber app. Now, all they need is to connect to a Wi-Fi connection, which most airports already have, to contact their drivers.

Messaging can also be leveraged for Uber's other businesses, including UberEATS, and makes a lot of sense there, too, as a future consideration, the company says.