It’s been years since the first iPhone and Android phones were released, so you’d expect by now that hiring taxis with an app on your fancy GPS-enabled device to tell the drive your location would be an everyday event, right? Wrong. Taxi services in New York have toyed with the idea, but until now there has been little advance on this. What a waste!
So, here are a couple of services you can check out. Both are limited to major cities and the area they hail from, but they are expanding rapidly.
Uber (available on Android, iOS or m.uber.com) is an incredibly versatile service, covering the high-end clients who want a fancy car with a chauffeur in major cities while they jet-set about, but also offering something for clients who want a reasonably-priced taxi ride from A to B while they are traveling or in their local city. Because of this duality, Uber has a sleek and simple system to make it easy for their high-end clients to go about their business, while also offering nifty features and bonuses for everyday people. The end result is a system that, if the fares are competitive enough with local taxi rates, will soon be taken up by millions.
For the clients who want style and service, there is a choice of cars: The luxury vehicle, the SUV, and the stately black sedan. For the budget-conscious, there is a choice of Taxi or UberX, with UberX being a cheaper everyday car.
The Uber system works in 20 countries worldwide, in the major cities of those countries. In America there are 30 cities, 15 cities across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and nine in the Asia-Pacific region. For example, there are two participating cities in France (Paris and Lyon), and two in Australia (Sydney and Melbourne). If you happen to live in one of these cities, you’re a lucky person. If not, you may still find use for this app when you’re traveling to any of these major cities, or when Uber expands to a city near you.
When you sign up, you add your credit card details. This seems a little weird, but it means that you always have a credit card connected, which allows Uber to automatically take payments for every ride taken, no matter what. This means no hassle paying the driver at the end of the ride. They know it’s paid for, so you just get out and a receipt is emailed to you automatically.
The pre-registered credit card system also allows passengers to split fares with each other. The person who hired the car sets up the split payment, while the ride-sharer has the option to accept or reject their half of the fare. Uber automatically divides the fare for you and charges each person individually, which means no-one’s left owing anyone for taxi fare.
When you book a car with Uber, you simply ask the app to find your location, then verify if that’s where you’d like to meet them or not, choosing an alternative nearby location if need be. When you set the destination and car type, Uber will tell you exactly how much the fare will be, ensuring that you have no surprises. You can also add any promo codes to get a discount if you have them.
You’ll be able to see your drivers name and car details in the app, sometimes with a photo, and you can follow the car on the map to see how close they are. If you need to, you can text or call the driver. However, there’s no need to look out for the car as you will receive a text message when your car arrives.
For those of you who love a good discount, Uber has a deal in place where you get $10 for every friend you recommend who takes a ride. You’re given a special link to send out to your social networks and then you can watch your free ride fund go up. This could be a really neat way to save money on your next big trip! Oh, and if you don’t like your auto-generated link, you can choose your own and make it awesome.
MyTaxi (for Android and iOS) is seriously out-classed by Uber, but is nonetheless a worthy app. Especially if you’re visiting a city MyTaxi services that Uber doesn’t service. MyTaxi centers on Germany and the surrounding countries, with a couple of US and Spanish cities thrown in for good measure.
You can tell the MyTaxi app whether you’re booking in advance or if you need a ride right now, how many passengers you have and exactly where you’re going. You can even see a visual marker on the map to show how far away your taxi is. When you’re done, the app can calculate the fare for you, including a tip if you like, then take a payment from your credit card automatically.
Travel Apps Generally
If you love to use apps when you travel, there are a lot more to check out. Try TravelNerd to navigate airports.
I think there is a lot of room in the app world for more taxi apps, however these two have made a great start. Has your local city got its own taxi app? Let us know in the comments!