Ride hailing app Uber today announced an in-app chat feature that lets riders and drivers communicate with one another without leaving the app. Uber said this update allows drivers to better communicate with riders when sudden road closures or other delays happen en route to the rider's location.
Riders can also send chats to drivers to indicate where they're waiting for the car, or give a distinct piece of clothing or accessory to allow the driver to easily identify them.
To do so, riders can navigate to the Uber feed, tap "contact," and then tap "Chat," and when the driver gets the message the app will read it aloud to them automatically so they aren't distracted. A one-tap response feature sends a quick thumbs up to the rider so they know their message was read.
Every great ride starts with the pickup, so we’re always thinking about ways to make the pickup experience as frictionless as possible for riders and drivers alike. 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.
So we’re adding a way for riders and drivers to chat right in the Uber app. It’s now easier than ever to get in touch.
Speaking with TechCrunch, Uber product manager Jeremy Lermitte said this will help keep user data more private, because drivers and riders won't have to share personal contact information outside of Uber. Additionally, the company is considering adding the chat feature into other apps, including UberEATS.
In-app chat is rolling out globally over the coming weeks to all Uber riders and drivers, and the company described the update as a "first step" towards introducing more communication and messaging experiences within its app.