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Ola has launched two features to its app-based cab booking where it will notify users in real-time when peak pricing drops on a particular ride that they’re booking and when a cab is available. The second feature lets users track their booked ride through rich push notifications.

The first ‘just in time’ feature will analyse a user’s cab preference and in case cabs are not available, the user will get a notification when one is, even if the user closes the Ola app. On tapping the notification, the user can complete their booking. For peak pricing, the app will notify the user 15 minutes after the user has not completed their booking.

In rich notifications, the user will see driver photo, contact and car details, which will be updated with the driver’s ETA and user boarding status. On boarding the cab, the user will see the emergency SOS button in the notification itself, which can be used to send user CRN, user name, location, location of alert, cab and driver details.

Note that Uber partially implements these features: on booking a cab, the user is notified of a cab being booked, the cab’s ETA, when the cab is 1 minute away and arriving and Uber provides a timeframe of up to 30 minutes for surge pricing, as and when surge pricing is dropped for a particular location.

However, Ola’s cab details and SOS button in notifications are the most interesting, given that multiple times, users need to close and reopen the app to see “real” real-time location of cab due to lag in network and other tech issues.

Surge pricing not allowed by government regulation

Note that the Delhi, Mumbai and Karnataka governments have already refused to implement peak and surge pricing into their guidelines for app based cab aggregators. Due to this, both Ola and Uber have had to suspend surge pricing in these respective states and regions to follow local rules, despite some reports stating otherwise. In June, Ola got a license to operate in Karnataka.

Ola recently added a host of BMW cars to its platform, expanded its ridesharing Ola Share product to 5 more cities and Auto in Thane. It also started accepting bookings on SMS where a user does not have an internet connection and integrated its API into Siri and Apple Maps to let iOS users get a cab from the platform. Ola and Uber can also be booked through Google mobile search. In July, Ola launched e-rickshaws in Lucknow after initially launching them in Delhi NCR.

Uber recently expanded to Lucknow, let its users schedule rides up to 30 days in advance, launched a web interface and started monitoring its drivers’ driving patterns for displaying in the app.