Uber has announced a new feature that allows drivers and riders to communicate within the Uber app before the driver reaches the rider's location. While drivers and riders can communicate via SMS or other outside services, direct communication within the app ensures that the two parties know exactly who they are talking to, and allows the driver the convenience of never having to exit the Uber app. this means that it is easier for the driver to get a bit of information from the fare about their exact location, then go back to the map and reach them.
Contacting a driver on their way to pick you up is as easy as going into the Uber feed, then tapping on "Contact" and "Chat." The message from the rider will be read aloud to the driver, and the driver can simply tap their app in return to send the rider a thumbs up, allowing them to acknowledge the receipt of the message without ever having to take their eyes off of the road. Should the driver need to actually reply to the message for clarification, they can do that just as easily. If a driver sends the rider a message before pickup for any reason, the rider can pay back the same courtesy with a single tap, or simply respond to the message as they would to any other. This change makes things easier on both sides; drivers don't have to take their eyes off the road to accommodate riders' requests or find their exact location, and riders don't have to go through the hassle of finding their driver's phone number or figuring out how to contact them in another app.
This new feature is rolling out to all markets that Uber serves around the world within the next few weeks. Uber's press release detailing the feature did not say what regions will be seeing it first and didn't mention an exact date by which the rollout is expected to be completed. Uber calls this its "first step" toward helping drivers and riders to communicate more easily and seamlessly, though no details were given on future plans in that vein.