If there’s one glaring omission about otherwise convenient ride-hailing apps, it’s the lack of a streamlined way for drivers and passengers to communicate upon being connected with each other. There are options to call and text, to be sure, but those are hardly integrated into the apps.
Well, the company behind one of these ride-hailing apps has come up with an admittedly simple solution to rectify that omission. And no, it’s not Uber, the most popular player in the worldwide ride-hailing economy. Rather, it’s the little ride-hailing company that could in Southeast Asia, Grab.
What is GrabChat?
Grab is touting the latest addition to its iOS and Android apps as the first instant message feature in a ride-hailing app.
Aptly called GrabChat, the new feature lets passengers and drivers talk to each other right within the Grab app. No more need to access the phone and external messaging apps. What’s more, GrabChat is, of course, free, so using it means no more charges for phone calls and text messages.
How does GrabChat work?
To initiate GrabChat, you just have to tap the chat icon in the “Driver on the way” screen after booking a GrabTaxi (taxi cab) or GrabCar (personal car). You can then select any of the preset messages, such as “Can you wait 5 minutes?” and “I am here already,” or send a custom message to, say, help the driver identify you quickly. As for the driver, he or she also gets to send you template or custom messages to let you know of your ride’s imminent arrival.
GrabChat is rolling out today on iOS and Android through an update to the Grab app on both platforms.
Grab is available in 30 cities across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
As someone who frequently uses Grab, I’m pleased to see a feature like GrabChat make its way to the app as I expect it will largely do away with the need to place phone calls and send SMS messages on both the parts of drivers and passengers. The message presets or templates look to be quite helpful, especially to drivers, who ought to be keeping their hands on the wheel and off the phone as much as possible.