Uber is currently rolling out a new feature that will allow drivers and riders to chat from within the app. Initially, riders and drivers could communicate via SMS but that involved leaving the app and using your airtime to text your driver through their phone number.
This new feature works fairly easy. When you book a ride, you will see a “contact” button on the pull-up menu at the bottom of the screen. You will then be able to initiate a chat with the driver and vice versa, the messages will show a read receipt for the sent messages.
For those worried about safety, since this new feature might mean that your driver will be texting as he drives, Uber will read out the messages to the driver to minimize distractions. There is also a quick reply option, a thumbs up emoji, that the driver can acknowledge receipt of your message as a rider. Drivers can also initiate a chat, but the Uber driver app warns in the messaging window that drivers should only text when not driving.
Uber said that the new feature will allow travellers without roaming plans to order for rides without the worry of incurring extra costs when trying to communicate with the driver. The company also revealed that they have considered VoIP audio calls as another feature that they might add in the future.
The company has been adding an array of features to their app, all in an effort to improve the user experience.