Uber has introduced a handful of new features aimed at improving the pickup process.
Ever tried to call an Uber at night, only to wander around in frustration as both you and the driver keep missing each other? The ride hailing company wants to fix scenarios like that by enabling you to light up your smartphone’s display with a specific colour. By raising it up in the air, it can then direct your driver’s attention towards you – acting like a makeshift flare gun – and give them more of an idea of what to look out for. Drivers will naturally be notified of whatever colour you choose. This feature is called Spotlight.
This isn’t the first time Uber has used colours as a means of communication between drivers and riders to help improve the pickup experience. In late 2017, the company unveiled its a gadget: the Beacon, a Bluetooth-enabled piece of plastic shaped like an Uber logo that drivers could stick to the inside of their windshields. Using the Uber app, riders could choose which colour to illuminate the Beacon, helping them easily find their driver amid a sea of similar-looking ride-sharing vehicles.
It was an interesting move for the normally asset-light Uber to make, as it required Uber to spend money on manufacturing Beacons and then distribute them to drivers. But the company says it’s still committed to the gadget. If your driver has a Beacon, that will take precedence over the new Spotlight feature, Uber says. As of this week, Beacons are now available in 14 cities.
Secondly, The company added scheduled pickups. This works just as it sounds; users will be able to pre-schedule a ride ahead of time and If you set a ride up in the future, Uber now guarantees your ride will arrive at the specified time. If it doesn’t you get a $10 account credit.Then Lastly, Uber makes it easier to send Pickup Messages to drivers, which provide them extra information without taking their attention off the road. These messages are read out loud to drivers and they can reply with pre-populated smart messages in a tap.
Ryan Yu, Uber’s Senior PM of Rider Experiences said in a blog post.
“To help you communicate with your driver without taking their attention off of the road, we’ve made sending a message simple. Now it’s even easier to share a tip (“I’m wearing a red jacket”), or send your driver a quick pre-populated update like “be right there” with a single tap. We designed Pickup Messages to encourage safe driving: your messages are read aloud, and drivers can simply tap to respond.
The new features would be available on update which is currently rolling out in the Google Play Store.