Uber introduces text chat translation and more detailed arrival notifications

Now if we could get real-time audio translation, we’d be set.

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Uber announced today that the latest version of its app includes two meaningful updates: refreshed pickup notifications and in-app translation services. Uber calls the update a “redesign,” though the bulk of the app is unchanged.

Smoother pickups (hopefully) — One of the most frustrating parts of calling an Uber has always been locating the driver. Is the car on the northeast corner or the southeast corner? Why isn’t my call going through to them? And also why is it pouring while I’m trying to look at this tiny map on my phone?

So thank goodness Uber is finally making that process easier. The redesign uses “a sequence of rotating, actionable notifications” including ones for exact arrival times, which direction to walk, and navigation directions for larger venues like arenas and airports. Uber also says in-app text will be “more comprehensible and visible” to make driver details easier to read.

In-app translation, but only for text — Uber’s announcement speaks to helping riders and drivers better communicate with each other, and it will be helpful to some extent. The app will now auto-translate if the driver’s language preference is listed differently than the rider’s.

But the translation is all text-based, which is only helpful when drivers are available to type. Communication while the drive is in-progress will remain unchanged. Perhaps Uber could attempt real-time audio translation — like that available in the Google Translate app — for increased accessibility during the ride itself.

Uber notes in its announcement that all of its previous in-app safety features are still available in the updated app. The update will roll out to all users in the next few days.