Like old (not very) times, users can now book an Uber cab via a phone call. The company said in its statement that calling over the phone is still a natural experience for emerging markets, and the company heard that some riders in India prefer booking a ride through a phone call. It said that it is piloting a phone number that riders can call to book an Uber across popular zones in a city. The taxi-hailer is currently piloting this in Pune, and did not share how and when it plans to expand this service.
How it works? Riders can call single nationwide phone number and enter a numeric code displayed on signage to help Uber identify their location. Once the ride is confirmed, the rider will also be sent a text message with information on the car and driver partner. An Uber will arrive at the exact location for easy pickups. The rider pays with cash at the end of the ride. The picture shared by the company suggests that the phone number to request a the cab is 55-555-55-555, and it will have boards on selected spots, so that a user can punch it that code to get the cab at exact location.
For riders using the app in limited network areas, the company said that it is enabling offline search by caching the top points of interest in the city so that riders can enter their destinations in the app without having to wait for the connection, and a ride would be able to book the cab with weak network-strength. It is unclear if this feature is fully offline or works on weak network strength. The feature will be rolled out in the next few weeks.
The company has launched a lighter web-based version of Uber in India which is almost identical to its mobile app with a few modifications for improved performance including the option to load the map. Users need to open their browser- desktop or mobile, enter m.uber.com, browse the app and available options, sign into your Uber account when ready to book. Enter your destination, and confirm your ride. We tried a booking, it seems cab booked via web only accepts cash payments as of now. Note, the cab aggregator had launched a web interface last year where non-Uber-app-possessors could book an UberGO from dial.uber.com from the browser.