Privacy Prevails as Uber Unveils In-App Chat

Uber revealed a new in-app messaging feature today that will allow riders and drivers to connect ahead of a pickup.

Until now, when Uber drivers needed to ask a passenger for further directions or let them know they’ve arrived, they could call or send a text message which pulls them out the application, exposing the rider’s phone number. On the other end, the rider receives a message from an unknown number—not the most seamless of experiences.

“These texts can lack context – is this random number my driver? How do I know if my SMS was received? So we’re adding a way for riders and drivers to chat right in the Uber app,” said Jeremy Lermitte, a product manager at Uber in a release.

Lermitte outlined how the feature will work, explaining the chat option will be under the “contact” option in the Uber feed. If sent to the driver, these messages will be read aloud, and they can send back a thumbs up to indicate to the rider they’ve seen their note. Regardless of who is sending the message, anyone in the ride-sharing app chat will be notified when a message is delivered and then read.

Building a chat feature into the app means both the driver and the rider don’t need to disclose their personal phone numbers, protecting privacy for everyone involved with an Uber transaction.

The in-app chat feature will be made available to ride-sharing users and Uber’s fleet of drivers in the coming weeks.

Uber has made several changes to the application in the past year, including the addition of a driver tipping option.