Innovation

Uber Launches In-App Chat Feature

Uber, the ride-hailing company, launched an in-app chat feature Thursday (Aug. 10).

According to a report in Mashable with the new feature riders can message the drivers directly via the app. The idea behind the in-app chat capability is to enable riders to give drivers a better idea of where to pick them up or if there are any obstacles that could make it tougher for the driver to pick up the passenger. Prior to launching the feature Mashable reported Uber users would wait around for the drivers similar to using a taxi service. There was the option to call the driver, but in this digital world that was very cumbersome.

Uber’s new in-app chat feature is now at the bottom of the Uber feed, and in order to make it work users simply hit contact and then chat to begin a conversation. The text is read out loud to the drivers so they won’t get into an accident. The driver taps the screen once to send a thumbs up emoji so the user knows he or she received the message, noted the report. The feature will be rolled out in the next few weeks, reported Mashable.

The move to make it easier for drivers and users to communicate comes at a time when the ride-hailing service is gearing up to close out or sell its car-leasing division in the U.S. by the end of this year. According to news from CNBC, Uber will shut down, sell to a partner or consolidate the car-leasing business to make it more efficient. The ridesharing company is taking a harder look at expense management after losses of $3 billion last year. The Wall Street Journal reported that the average loss per vehicle in the leasing division was about 18 times what Uber executives had estimated. In fact, the actual losses were about $9,000 per vehicle, more than the estimated losses of around $500 per vehicle, according to the WSJ. Scaling back on leasing would affect about 500 jobs out of Uber’s workforce of 15,000, the ride-hailing company will make sure there’s a vehicle option for drivers who use its Xchange leasing division.

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