New Uber Features: Call to Ride, Request For Guest Coming Soon!

Uber is launching new features to tackle the problems faced by ride-hailing services.


New Uber Features

Usually, a local auto-driver or a cabbie will take you to your desired destination unerringly, however obscure it is. Sometimes their knowledge of local destinations is unmatched even by Google Maps.

In such cases, hailing a radio cab, whose entire operation is based on online navigation has its own set of challenges. Addresses are either non-existent or are so obscure that they cannot be found even on maps. Adding to the challenges is the fact that not everybody has an efficient smartphone or a super-fast connection.

Uber has acknowledged these problems. It is rolling out new features for its India operations to tackle these very problems.

Uber’s Solutions For India’s Problems

Pune has been selected to pilot a new “Call To Ride” feature from Uber which allows people to book cabs via voice calls. There will be pre-determined booking points scattered across the city which will have unique alphanumeric codes assigned to them.

Customers can share these alphanumeric codes over the voice call while booking the cab. These codes will tell drivers where to pick up their customers. It sounds simple and should be immensely helpful to people who want to book cabs from some out-of-the-way pickup point.

Uber is also introducing a newer, more agile version of their web version of their mobile app. With this, the company will roll out their other new feature, “Request For Guest” which will allow users to book cabs on behalf of others. These will even include people who do not own mobile phones.

Uber has been facing competition from Ola since their launch almost 4 years ago. It has 450,000 drivers across 29 cities against Ola’s 800,000 operators in 110 cities.

Uber Still Has A Long Way To Go

Operators like Ola and Uber have to constantly find new ways to make their services more affordable against challenges like spotty mobile-web connectivity and overwhelming traffic problems.

Uber is advertising “Paisa Vasool” pool fares which start as low as Rs. 29/-, in cities like Bangalore towards that effort.

Daniel Graf, Uber’s head of product was recently on a 3-city tour in India to experience the ground conditions first hand. He had many insights when he went through the actual booking process through the app. These included loss of connectivity, fluctuating network speeds, location accuracy and arrival time reliability. He said,

“We are not here to build the ‘cool new thing’, we want to work on making the most impact on the widest possible base. We want to go as broad and make the Uber experience as seamless as possible,”

He also said that they personally visited customers at their homes to take feedback about their concern areas and also had an interaction with drivers about earnings predictability and fare transparency.

While these efforts from Uber are appreciated, it still has a long way to go in order to compete with Ola in India.

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