Uber has announced two new features that are meant to improve communication between riders and drivers and make pickups less stressful. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Uber is constantly tweaking its app and rolling out new devices in its crusade to perfect those pesky pickups.
The first change is a series of notifications meant to give riders greater insight into the progress of their driver. These notifications include how many minutes remain before a driver arrives, where you should meet a driver, which direction to walk, and helpful instructions on navigating big, chaotic areas, like an airport, arena, or event venue.
The next change is a translation feature for communications with your driver. Uber is a global business and has said it wants to provide a more seamless way of getting in touch with your driver.
Previously, an in-app text message sent from a driver to a rider would appear in that driver’s preferred language. For example, if a driver prefers Spanish, a text message to a rider would be displayed in Spanish, regardless if that is the rider’s preferred language.
Now, when you text your driver in the app, there will be an option to translate the message into your driver’s preferred language and vice versa.
So much can go wrong after you tap that request button, especially in crowded or nighttime situations. Uber says it’s constantly looking for ways to cut through the clutter and reduce the number of rides that ultimately get canceled — an action that leads to what Uber calls “wasted supply.” The company has been throwing lots of people and resources at its cancellation problem over the years, and today’s announcement is just the latest prong of that effort.
Uber has been tweaking its main product, its app, in recent months in an effort to improve the seamlessness of pickups and drop-offs. The company recently introduced a unique, four-digit PIN verification system aimed at making sure riders don’t get into the wrong vehicle. If you opt in, you’ll need to say the PIN out loud to your driver before he or she can start the ride.
Uber is also developing a new technology that uses ultrasound waves to automatically verify you’re in the right car, no PIN needed. The rider’s phone will send this ultrasonic signal to the driver’s phone to automatically verify the unique PIN. The company has said that technology should be ready to roll before the end of 2019.