When you’re calling an Uber to pick you up from your house, finding your driver isn’t hard (usually). When you’re calling an Uber to pick you up from a more crowded location, things can get way more complicated.
To make this process a little easier, Uber released a new tool this week called “Spotlight”, a digital flare of sorts you can hold up to catch the attention of your driver and set you apart from everyone else.
Once you’ve placed a ride request on Uber and you’re watching your ride pull up, just tap the little icon in the lower-right corner of the screen. Assuming the driver isn’t already using a Beacon, you’ll be able to fill your phone’s display with a colour (you pick), and Uber will tell your driver to look for a person waving their phone around who has that matching colour.
There are, of course, only so many colours in the rainbow. If the concert just let out and you (and everyone else) are trying to catch an Uber home, there’s a good chance you aren't going to be the only person in the pack waving around a yellow (or green, or blue) screen. Still, Spotlight will at least make finding your ride a tiny bit easier.
You’ll also see a new chat window at the bottom of your screen that you can use to type in details about your location or appearance. I’ve personally found that saying “I’m the girl in the red dress” is just as easy to do by texting the driver from the app, and can go a long way in helping in a crowded situation.
That said, messages sent using Uber’s “pickup notes” are read aloud to your driver through the app, so they might be a bit more useful than texting.
I gave both tools a test drive last night in New Orleans. We were on a crowded street, and our driver found us pretty quickly. I honestly think we might have been OK without providing the extra directions and the coloured flare, but it never hurts to be specific.