Uber App Review: A Mobile Location-Based Private Driver Service

Use Your Smartphone to Grab a Private Car Ride and Pay For It Too

Uber Review
Photo © Jutta Klee / Getty Images

Heard of the popular Uber private car/cab/taxi-like service and wondering what the heck it is? You're not the only one!

Hailing a cab isn't exactly difficult to do, but it sure can be a pain when you try and try but just can't get a cab driver's attention. Uber helps take a lot of inconveniences like this out of the traditional ways of taking a cab.

What Is This Uber Private Driver Service, Anyway? How Does It Even Work?

The idea goes a little something like this: You download the free Uber app for iPhone,  Android or Windows Phone, and you use it to signal your need for a ride.

All it takes is a tap of your finger, and within a few minutes, a nice, shiny black car will show up to take you to your destination. Since your credit card is already configured to the mobile app you used to call for the ride, your payment and tip will be charged automatically.

Nice, right? Here are the three simple steps you need to take when using Uber:

Use the app to tell Uber where you want to be picked up: You can use the map and your phone’s GPS to tell Uber your current location so they can pick you up. If you’re using their mobile website, you can type in the address or you can text the address to UBR-CAB (827-222) if you’re using Uber in Canada or the US.

Wait for Uber to respond: Uber will send you a text notifying you of how long you’ll need to wait before you can expect to be picked up. When your Uber ride arrives, you’ll receive another text to let you know.

Wait for your payment to be automatically charged: Your card will be automatically charged, with the tip already included.

You don’t need to manually hand over some cash or your card to the driver before you leave. It’s that simple.

Optionally split your fare with other Uber users: If you're taking an Uber car with one or more other people, you have the option to divide up the fare quickly and easily through the app. The other people you're riding with must have the Uber app installed to do so, along with their credit card information set up on it so they can make payments.

Rate your experience: Once your ride is over, you can use the app to rate your driver and overall experience with Uber. You can even leave specific comments.

Uber Availability and Other Details

Uber has been expanding quickly across the globe and is currently available in 200 different cities. You can see a list of all the cities it operates in on the Uber website.

For extra added convenience, Uber even gives you a fare quote according to your location and destination before you even decide to call a car, so you can see exactly what the cost will be without any surprises. You can see more of what the Uber app can do on their website's features page.

The Many Controversial Issues with Uber

Throughout 2014, Uber showed up in the news a lot. There have been scandalous news stories related to all sorts of things including how the startup treats its customers and drivers, how it activates surge pricing, how it doesn't operate without a license around the world, and all sorts of other terrible things. You could do a Google search for a bunch of stuff about Uber's woes, or you could read this Medium post which sums up a few of the biggest problems quite nicely.

Uber App & Private Driver Service Review: My Experience

I live close to Toronto and used Uber in this city for the first time in 2012. This review is based on that experience. I have not taken Uber since then because I haven't needed to, so any updates or changes to both the app and service itself that took place since I used Uber in 2012 may not be reflected in this review.

I personally love apps that make my life easier, and the Uber Android app was easy to use and set up. After you create an account and set up all your credit card information, Uber sends you a text message to welcome you to the service and so you can confirm your phone number and your email address. You can view or change any of your details from within the app or by signing in on their website.

After hitting the green Set Pickup Location button to signal for an Uber car, I got a text message telling me that my cab would be coming in 14 minutes. It actually took maybe four or five minutes before my ride arrived, which was nice.

The app also tells you the name of your driver and how far away he is. Both times, the car driver had to call me by phone to find out exactly where I was standing. During my second ride, the driver was confused because the GPS was off a little and told him to stop farther away from where I was actually standing.

The cars are very nice, high-quality black sedans with leather interior. I was impressed that the drivers were very quick to react to my call and were very pleasant on the phone and in person. When you get in the car, you can actually see your cab moving down the road on the app from your phone.

Once I arrived at my destination, I didn’t have to do anything but thank my driver. Both times I used Uber for a ride, each driver got out to open the door for me. Within minutes, I received the bill by email and the app prompted me to give the driver a rating out of five with the added option to send feedback. Once I did, I received a nice message from the Uber Toronto community manager thanking me for my feedback.

Overall, my experience with Uber was great. The price may seem a little expensive to some people who give it a try, but when you work it out with the tip and realize that you’re paying for more of a high-quality private driver experience, it’s actually well worth the cost. The biggest downside I think was the subtle inaccuracy of the GPS system for specific locations. It can take some time for the driver to figure out exactly where you are, which can be awkward and frustrating when you’re trying to explain exactly where you are by phone.

When I asked the driver about it, he said it’s a pretty common problem at the moment.

My Final Note

Now that it's been a couple of years since I've used Uber, I don't know if I'd use it again. It's not that I didn't have a pleasant experience -- I did, but all the horrifying news stories I've browsed through makes me want to avoid it. The City of Toronto is seeking an injunction to shut it down anyway, so if that's what happens, then I won't even have the choice.

Have you used Uber? If you have, please feel free to leave a personal review below.