Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Ubetalk app helps gig drivers stay in touch


When Uber and Lyft arrived in my city, I was among the first people who signed up to drive.

Over the first few months,  there was plenty of interaction among drivers. First there were official meetings, then occasional social gatherings where we swapped driving stories and shared tips and marketing ideas. Later, many of us installed installed a walkie-talkie type of app that let us talk on a group channel. 

But that was more than six years ago. Today, many of the initial drivers who I got to know have moved on to other jobs. And the last time I checked the walkie-talkie app, here was apparently no one on the usual channel. All I heard was silence.

Maybe gig drivers need a new and more convenient way to communicate with each other. That's the idea behind Ubetalk, a new iOS app created by someone who worked for several years as a rideshare driver in the San Francisco area. It's designed to let drivers connect with and share information with each other. 

Ubetalk (pronounced YOUBEE talk) uses a dedicated text messaging platform to share comments and questions. The app uses real-time GPS to connect to drivers who are in the same general vicinity.

Unlike the walkie-talkie app, Ubetalk uses text messages that can be entered from the phone's keyboard or dictated using the keyboard's voice input option. 

Using text avoids the garbled audio that I often experienced with the walkie-talkie app. And it leaves messages posted on the user's screen for as long as the app is in use. A separate segment called Report acts like a bulletin board for general information such as a street closing. 

Messages posted in the Broadcast part of the app disappear when the app is closed. Messages remain in the Report area, which acts like a bulletin board. In either case, the message authors remain anonymous. 


Ubetalk developer Alex Shin says the app was designed to appeal to a wide range of drivers, including those who do delivery gigs for Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Uber eats or Amazon as well as full-time professional drivers for UPS and FedEx and taxi, limo, bus and truck drivers.

Drivers can use the app to share updates and tips on traffic snarls, pickup and drop off locations as well as pay rates and surge areas. Users can also share information about new driving opportunities.

Jokes, funny stories and links to websites or social media platforms are allowed on Ubetalk. But the user license agreement prohibits messages that involve profanity, hate speech, drug use, copyrighted images or sexually explicit photos.   

Ubetalk is available as a free download for iOS devices in the Apple App Store. Shin says a version for Android devices will be released soon.

For a closer look at Ubetalk, check the video below and the Ubetalk website


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Follow me on Twitter @ricmanning and read my technology columns at My Well Being.


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