US-based cab ride service Uber, with an aim to grow its operations, is reportedly going under a massive makeover for its app, especially with its India-focussed features. Among the features added to the latest update of the app are, ‘Destination first’, ‘People search’, ‘Calendar’, ‘Shortcuts’ and ‘Compare fares with cars’. Uber’s Head (Strategy) for India talked to Indianexpress.com to inform about the new changes and how commuters have reacted to them. Singh said, “There were a couple of things that we did to collect feedback before making the changes. One was on-the-ground rider studies, where our engineers were watching rides in action and discussing with them for feedback. Second was analysing rider behaviour from the app and finally, getting feedback from our driver partners.”
According to Uber, the newly updated app was 50 percent faster while loading relative to the earlier version. Uber just went through its biggest makeover in years, by unveiling better user interface, destination suggestions, more transparent fares etc. With the ‘where to’ feature it has made the user interface much easier to handle, as does the new ‘estimated pricing’ option coming right on top. Through the dial-an-uber page one can now book cabs even in slow or no network, a feature which the company recently launched after testing in four Indian cities, IE.com reported.
Singh explained, “Many of the features are unique to India. We recognise that many of our geographies might not have effective 4G network coverage or good 3G networks but we’d want to serve riders at such places as well. The new app has been redesigned to load 50 per cent faster. The second feature is Dial-an-Uber that allows users to book cabs via a webpage.”
Talking about the new safety options in the Uber app, especially for women, Singh pointed out, “We have a feature called ‘Share your ETA’ in the app, which allows you to share your location in real-time with your friends and family. There’s also an ‘SOS’ option in the app via which a rider can reach either PCR or our 24×7 help centre in case of an emergency.”
Calendar with the app is going to be a welcome feature for a lot of busy commuters. Users will be able to connect their meeting and appointments on their calendar with the Uber app, as it automatically creates ‘Shortcuts’. Singh said, “The feature will be compatible with all major Calendar apps that are available out there.”
Another new feature where users are able to share locations with friends as well as add them to the contact list. This addition serves the purpose that users are able to set the destination with a person’s name instead of a location, after sharing that with the other person. Uber texts that person about the plan, and after approval, it books a ride for the user based on the friend’s location.
Prabhajeet said, “People use Uber to get to places, but often it is about getting to people. Therefore, we want to be able to just identify who do you need to meet. You don’t need to know their location at that point in time and via two-way communication, the app should be able to seamlessly take you to that person. The idea is it should be a magical experience for the rider, one which saves time.”
The new feature available in the US, where users can book rides through Facebook Messenger has become quite popular. But there is no immediate plan for Uber to launch the same in India. Singh said, “I won’t give a specific time-frame but the way we look at it is we want to make it seamless for riders to interact with Uber via whichever platform they’re comfortable with. I see a lot of that coming as early as next few months.”