American cab aggregator Uber has announced some new features for its Indian users at ‘Building for India’ event. The company has launched m.uber.com, a light mobile web version of its website and other new features including offline search option in the app, request for a guest and call to book a ride.
Uber has been targeting the Indian market with offering solutions to those who have limited or poor connectivity or have a basic smartphone. The ‘offline search’ and ‘request for a guest’ features will available in the next few weeks for all users, while m.uber.com is already live in India. Uber is currently offering ‘call to get a ride’ feature in Pune only.
The mobile version of its website m.uber.com is targeted at users who have basic smartphones and cannot support mobile apps due to limited storage space. They can access the mobile web version of Uber which is almost identical to the Uber app with a few modifications.
Similar to the app, m.uber.com comes with improved performance on a browser, including the option to load the map. Also, it will have the option to sign into your Uber account, enter your destination and confirm your ride.
Offline search option
This feature is for riders in limited network areas. The new offline search option is integrated into the Uber app. It works by caching the top points of interest in the city so that riders can enter their destinations in the app without even having the internet connection and the app will get the place from a cache. The feature automatically works if the app detects limited connectivity. The feature will be available in coming weeks.
Request for a Guest
The ‘Request for a Guest’ is another new feature that will allow users to book an Uber for their guests or loved ones from their Uber app no matter where the rider or guest is located. The rider does not even need a smartphone or the Uber app in order to ride an Uber.
How the feature works
The person requesting a ride for guest can simply tap “Where to?”, then choose the pickup location of the guest, and also enter their contact number. The rider will receive trip information in a text message including ETA, vehicle information, and driver contact number, so they can coordinate with the driver directly.
On the other hand, the driver will see the rider’s name and number. The diver will able to contact rider through a masked number for privacy on both sides, or the driver can call the person who booked the ride. The ride will be charged to the person who booked it unless the requestor selects cash as the payment option.
Call to get a Ride
This is another useful feature for users who don’t even have a smartphone. Call to get a ride will serve feature phone users and also in areas with a limited network or those who use a smartphone but have limited space for an app or running out of their data plan.
How it works
Uber has launched single nationwide phone number to book the cab. Riders can now call this number and enter the area code when asked to help Uber identify their location. Once the ride is confirmed, the rider will get a text message with information about the car and driver partner. An Uber will arrive at the exact location you are calling from for easy pickups.
Uber is currently rolling out ‘call to get a ride’ feature in Pune and there is no word when it will be available in other cities.
Speaking at the event, Daniel Graf, Vice President and Head of Product at Uber said,
“In India, we have a strong team of over 150 engineers and product champions in Bangalore and at the newly inaugurated Hyderabad engineering facility working on innovations and localizations for markets around the world. As a part of our efforts to enable global access to Uber, we’re focusing on two key areas for riders – building solutions for those who don’t have access to the Uber app and enabling our existing rider app to work better in emerging markets.”