You no longer have to exchange texts with your Uber driver from your personal phone number.
The ride-hailing giant announced today that it’s adding a messaging feature to the app so that passengers and drivers alike can get in touch without ever leaving the app.
A post on Uber’s blog reads: “Riders and drivers can contact one another using apps outside of Uber. But these texts can lack context – is this random number my driver? How do I know if my SMS was received?”
An Uber spokesperson said the company was already masking phone numbers of drivers and passengers by using anonymizing technology in a number of countries, including the U.S, but this feature is meant to eliminate unnecessary confusion and make the ride-hailing experience more seamless. Here’s how it works: Once a rider opens the app, they can tap “contact” and then “chat.” When the driver receives the message, it will be read aloud to them so they can focus on the road. Both the rider and the driver will be able to see whether their chats are delivered and read.
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Uber is rolling out the new in-app chat feature globally over the coming weeks. This app update is the latest in a series of improvements to the user experience.
In June, the company announced that it would allow customers to order a ride for someone else. In other words, when a user opens the app, it would allow him to select a friend from his contact list, request a ride to the passenger’s final destination, and pay for the trip.
Then in July, Uber released its in-app tipping option nationwide. After resisting it for a number of years, the company now allows passengers to tip their drivers after a ride. The move was part of a larger initiative called 180 Days of Change, a campaign that aims to make “meaningful changes and improvements” to the driving experience. Other changes Uber announced include a shorter cancellation window and driver injury protection insurance.
These new features are bound to woo new drivers to the platform as Uber tries to undo the damage from PR missteps including a video of its former CEO, Travis Kalanick, berating a driver (he later apologized) and a passenger boycott promoted on social media.