They can then acknowledged that they received the message by tapping the phone, which sends a thumbs-up to the passenger.
When drivers receive a message, the Uber app will read the message out loud.
To chat with their driver en route, a rider should go to the Uber feed and tap "contact" and then "chat".
"This also means that driver-partners who decline to accept a cash trip will not face any consequences - they will not be penalised for declining a cash trip, nor will they be deactivated for doing so", the company adds.
Uber SA has introduced a new payment system - a cash indicator feature - that allows operators to choose if they want to collect clients on "cash trip" request or not.
Uber says the most prominent reason for this addition is that a ton of users relied on SMS previously for interacting with their driver. Instead of calling your Uber driver and getting no response - or trying to find your vehicle in a sea of other people looking for their Uber - the company is bringing a chat feature to the app. (Literally while I'm writing this, a black auto driver is leaning on their horn outside my apartment.) Like all tech companies desperately trying to smooth out modern life's rough edges, Uber has a new solution: in-app messaging. "That's especially true in some of our key markets like Brazil and India. Now we're giving that delivered and read status which isn't always available today with SMS technology".
It also comes following concerns from drivers that cash trips could open them up to being targeted by criminals.
"The riders really just wanted a consistent experience", Lermitte noted.
The built-in messaging feature makes a lot of sense when you think about it, and Lermitte says that it's something Uber can offer without requiring significant ongoing overhead to maintain. It's a faster and cheaper experience with no toggling between Uber and other messaging/calls and no voice call or SMS costs. In-app communication could be a vector for all kinds of potential business extensions for Uber, too, including connecting riders mid-ride with other businesses and promotions.