Now, riders can tap "contact" followed by "chat" within the app in order to message their driver. Nevertheless, Uber is trying to fix the nuisance with a new in-app chat feature.
When drivers receive a message, the Uber app will read the message out loud.
According to Uber, the new in-app messaging system will preclude riders and drivers from having to share their phone number with one another when they need to get in touch.
While a driver is on the road, chat messages will be read aloud to them, so they don't have to take their eyes off the road, certainly a safety improvement over them struggling to read SMS. Uber is a free download from the Play Store. It's rolling out globally over the coming weeks.
Could Uber's new chat feature signal bigger ambitions for the company? The rider can easily chat with their driver in real time.
Uber already masks drivers' and riders' phone numbers using its own anonymization technology, along with third-party services, to route phone calls and texts, according to an Uber spokeswoman. And the calling feature could lead to awkward conversations while riders and drivers tried to locate one another. That way, they can stay focused on the road. Chats are sent using the same contact button you previously used to send texts.
Speaking to TechCrunch, Uber Product Manager Jeremy Lermitte said the feature was introduced because in certain markets drivers and customers don't have unlimited SMS or calls included in their plans, which creates a cost issue.
"That's especially true in some of our key markets like Brazil and India". Both riders and drivers will see if their chats are delivered and read, to confirm the other actually received the communication.
Messaging can also be leveraged for Uber's other businesses, including UberEATS, and makes a lot of sense there, too, as a future consideration, the company says.