Uber’s in-app chat is for people who really don’t want to talk:
Uber hit a whopping 5 billion rides in May, up from 2 billion rides a year ago. That equals an unquantifiable amount of passenger-driver interactions. Therefore, it's odd that reaching out to your Uber chauffeur has always been such a cumbersome process. The only option you had was to send a text to the driver's number, which can feel a bit too intimate for someone you don't know. To solve all that, Uber is launching a new in-app chat function -- making it easier than ever to hit up your caddie with updates.
With the most recent version of the app installed, just head into the Uber feed, tap "contact," and then hit "chat." This way, you can send your driver useful info -- like your exact location -- without ever having to leave the app. Or, you could just troll them with emojis, it's entirely up to you. And, of course, it's great for those of you who aren't fond of having one-to-one conversations during the ride.
On the other end, drivers will have the messages read aloud to them, so as not to distract them from the road. They can then respond with a simple thumbs up. Like most chat apps, Uber will tell you when your message is delivered, and read. It's still unclear whether you'll be able to carry on messaging after your ride ends. But, that would cause way too many privacy hurdles for it to work.
The feature is the latest in a string of app updates, which may be aimed at diverting the attention from its management foibles. In-app chat starts rolling out globally over the coming weeks.