The Uber experience is generally fantastic, but there has been one part that kind of sucks. That's the part where the driver calls you, obviously from a number you don't know. That means when you pick up, it could be anyone, so you hope its the call you're expecting. This also means the Uber driver has your phone number, until today there was a very practical reason for that, to find you, exact location given GPS has some variability.
Today Uber have announced they're improving that exchange between driver and rider by adding chat. This chat allows messaging between the driver and rider through the Uber mobile app, without exposing your phone number. Sure Uber the company will still know it, but random driver X won't. Obviously your Uber driver doesn't forget your phone number the second you leave the car, its in their recent call list. This opens the door to potential harassment, while Uber doesn't state this in the release, this is clearly a technology solution designed to close the door to the risk of a negative experience for passengers.
While you're patiently waiting on the footpath to be picked up, looking at your phone and interacting with chat is fine, but what about the driver? Uber have thought about that and reads any chat messages you send to the driver out loud, so their hands can stay on the wheel. If the driver does need to quickly respond, they can simply tap a thumbs up to let you know your message (and information) was received.
In-app chat is rolling out across the globe to riders and drivers over the coming weeks.
This is our first step towards leveraging real-time-messaging to enable seamless communication experiences for our customers and help them connect in both the digital and physical worlds. Make sure you have the latest version of the app to use it and stay tuned for more updates!