Fret not! Your Ola ride is just a text message away

Fret not! Your Ola ride is just a text message awayOver the past few months, Ola has aggressively stepped up the focus on differentiated India-focussed technology innovation and launch of multiple categories and consumer experience initiatives in a bid to maintain its market leadership. (In pic: Ola's co-founder, Bhavish Aggarwal)

Ride-hailing company Ola has introduced an ‘offline-booking’ feature on its mobile app, enabling passengers to book cabs without an active internet connection, a key competitive advantage over smaller rival Uber.

“While connectivity continues to be an infrastructural challenge, we are constantly building innovative technology that helps fill the gap, and the launch of Ola offline feature is a major step in that direction,” said chief technology officer Ankit Bhati.
The feature will automatically appear when the user is offline, allowing him to send his location via SMS. The user will receive a text message with details of cabs available around, along with the steps on how to make the booking. Once the booking is confirmed, he will get another text message with the driver details.

Over the past few months, Ola has aggressively stepped up the focus on differentiated India-focussed technology innovation and launch of multiple categories and consumer experience initiatives in a bid to maintain its market leadership.

According to Ola, only 34% of the population has access to the internet and a majority of even those who do struggle to get adequate data connectivity at all times. “In India, users are more inclined towards prepaid mobile service, making them more vulnerable to running out of data. Spotty 3G and 4G coverage also accounts for a fair amount of data connectivity issues, even in tier-I cities,” the company said in a statement.

Ola used to offer phone-based cab booking until the middle of last year — it was similar to traditional taxi-booking services. In July 2015, Ola went app-only, discontinuing cab bookings on its website and on the phone, since it claimed that it was receiving as much as 99% of the bookings through the app.

In August, rival Uber introduced a ‘Dial-an-Uber’ feature allowing users in some cities to book cabs without the app, but still needing an active mobile internet connection.

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