Uber launches a low-data ‘Lite’ version of its app in India in an effort to expand its service in emerging markets
- Uber Lite requires 5MB of free space, instead of 181.4MB for the standard app
- The slimmed-down app was built from the ground-up to work with 2G networks
- Uber hopes the new smartphone app will help it break into the Indian market
Uber has launched a new version of its ride-hailing app, dubbed Uber Lite.
The redesigned app ditches a series of features included in the main Uber app in an effort to save space.
The slimmed-down app requires just 5MB of free space to install – about the same as three selfies, and around 176MB less than the standard Uber application.
As a result, Uber Lite should be much easier for low-storage phones to handle.
Those who want to test-out Uber Lite need to sign-up to a waiting list.
The stripped-back app is designed to help the company break into India, however, the company has promised to roll-out Uber Lite in other emerging markets later this year.
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Uber Lite has a minimalist design to help slim the main smartphone app down to 5MB, which should be much easier for low-storage phones to handle
Uber Lite works almost identically to the standard Uber experience, with the software designed to connect users with nearby drivers using their current location.
However, to help compensate for poor mobile connectivity in emerging markets, Uber Lite will cache the most popular pickup points in the local area.
The more users travel with Uber Lite, the better the app will be at predicting their final destination – surfacing users’ most frequently-visited spots at the top of the list of suggestions, Uber claims.
The San Francisco-based company has also built the app to work seamlessly with 2G networks.
For now, payment in Uber Lite is cash only.
However, Uber plans to add India’s popular Paytm payment platform and credit card options into the lightweight version of the app, which it built from the ground-up, in the coming months.
To slim-down its ride-sharing app, Uber removed the map from its user interface.
Unlike the standard app, which tracks users’ progress with a map of their route updated in real-time, the 5MB version uses a progress bar to show the percentage of the journey which has already been completed.
Uber Lite does include the option to enable maps, but it is not the default.
One feature Uber decided not to ditch in an effort to save space was the ability to share an up-to-date ETA with friends or family.
Head of rider experience Peter Deng told TechCrunch: ‘We knew how important safety was in these markets. I’m really proud we took additional steps to empathise.’
The slimmed-down app will also add the ability to choose a preferred language within the initial setup, and the ability to request a cab without network connectivity, later this year.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi revealed earlier this year that India was a ‘key component’ to the growth plan of the ride-hailing smartphone app (Uber Press Image)
Shirish Andhare, Uber Head of Product for Emerging Markets, said: ‘We continue to see exponential growth outside of the US, and are thinking a lot about building for the next hundreds of millions of riders who we hope will choose Uber to get around.
‘That’s why today, we’re introducing Uber Lite: built in India, designed for the world.
‘Uber Lite is a simple version of the rider app that saves space, works on any network, and on any Android phone.’
Ola is the most popular ride-hailing service currently operating in India, with a 45 per cent of the taxi market compared to Uber’s 35 per cent.
The service, which is based in Bangalore and valued at over $3 billion (£2.2 billion), launched its own lightweight version of its ride-hail app back in January.
Dubbed Ola Lite, the stripped-back version of the app is only 1MB to download and offers a similarly simple user interface.
Earlier this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was bullish about its business in India.
‘India is a key component of our growth plan,’ Khosrowshahi said.
‘If you look at the market, it’s one of our healthiest markets in terms of growth rates […] When I think about Uber and where we are going to be five to 10 years from now, our success in India is going to play a vital part in the growth of this company and how we do in terms of innovation and in terms of where we are within the global mobility ecosystem.’
Uber was rumoured to be in talks to merge with Ola in India, however, the launch of Uber Lite appears to be an indication that the San Francisco ride-hail service is doubling down in the country.
ARE RIDE-HAILING APPS SPYING ON YOUR PRIVATE DATA?
Lyft is the latest ride-sharing app to face intense scrutiny surrounding abuse of customer data
A complaint was filed on an anonymous workplace chat app, Blind, that alleged staffers are spying on customer data
Both Uber and Lyft have been called into question over whether their staffers spy on customer information like trip data
The employees may have been looking at trip information for Mark Zuckerberg, ex-girlfriends, porn stars and high-profile actresses
In the post, the anonymous tipster said they’ve witnessed staffers spying on customer data ‘for far too long’
‘I can’t stand to watch this any longer and this post is made in the hope that this will shame people into taking corrective action,’ the post said
Lyft said it will investigate the claims as it looks to preserve consumer trust
Rival ride-hailing firm Uber has also come under fire for surveilling user data
In 2014, it was discovered that Uber used a secretive tool called ‘God view’
‘God view’ would let employees spy on customer data from politicians, ex-girlfriends and celebrities
Uber must now comply with privacy audits for the next 19 years
Pictured, a screenshot of Uber’s ‘God view’ tool that it used to spy on drivers and riders. A 2014 report alleged that the company used it to look at trip data from politicians, exes and actresses
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