Uber to Add Limited Messaging to Its App

Uber Chat

Alternative free chat services, such as WhatsApp, also rely on both parties knowing each other's phone numbers.

Now, a chat feature will appear in the Uber app once you book a ride, showing your driver's name, vehicle type, and plate number at the top of the messaging screen; you can even see read/received receipts for sent messages.

To contact drivers when they're on their way, users can access a "chat" section.

Because texting and driving is a huge no-no, Uber will read your text aloud to the driver. A rider will simply have to go to the Uber app and tap on "contact" and then "chat". But while that technology is used in the U.S., it isn't available in some emerging markets, which is what inspired Uber to build this new chat system, a spokesperson said. That includes helping riders and drivers connect should they need to get in touch with one another to solve for things like road closures, or to just provide information on their exact location.

Uber also recently launched in-app tipping and added a feature that lets you request a ride for someone else.

Basically, the features works like any other in-app chat feature.

Could Uber's new chat feature signal bigger ambitions for the company?

Apart from issues of cost and privacy, the Product Manager highlighted that users demand more visibility that will indicate if their messages were actually received.

This function should help save both drivers and passengers valuable time. From an outside perspective, that seems to open up that whole "giving the creepy driver that was hitting on me my number" door again, so I'd rather they didn't, although at least in-app I presume they'd have a record of the interaction and could fire him a little quicker. Uber also redesigned its app at the end of a year ago when it introduced integrations with Snapchat, Yelp, Pandora and the ability to add friends as a destination.

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