Uber has announced the launch of Uber Lite, a simple version of its ride-sharing app designed to help you book a ride on any Android device, be it a basic phone, even with poor network signal. Shirish Andhare, Head of Product for Emerging Markets at Uber, claims that the lighter version of its rider app consumes less than 5MB of storage space so that more room is left for other apps and media content. Uber Lite is also said to boast a response time of 300 milliseconds even in spotty connectivity.
While the app is designed as a stripped-down version of Uber, it still retains the essential features of the main app such as the in-app support and the ability to share your ride with friends and family. Basically, Uber Lite features "Guided pickups," which help you detect your current location before proceeding with requesting a ride so that you won't have to type in your pick-up point to the app's location field. In the event of poor network signal, the app will show the well-known pick-up areas near you so that you can choose from a list of preset points. The app also includes a cache of popular places in a given city so that all you have to do is simply tap on a destination when you book a ride even you are offline. Uber Lite is also designed to learn from your recent destinations so that it displays your frequently visited places first for a quicker selection of places, no need to type your destination every time you request a ride. In a bid to make the app as light as possible, maps are made optional in Uber Lite so that you can choose to use that feature only when you need it. In case you want to use maps in Uber Lite, the feature can be easily summoned with just a single tap.
Soon, Uber plans to introduce a progress bar to help you keep track of a driver's progress instead of using the map and the ability to choose a language. Initially, Uber Lite will be available in India, where the app is being piloted. It's important to note that Uber is also ramping up its investments in India after selling its Southeast Asia unit to Grab. Andhare says Uber plans to roll out the app in other countries later this year.