At least Uber is synonymous in many people’s’ ears since it has become a universally accepted alternative to crowded Matatus, Special Hires and hey, car owners that feel like they would need to be chauffeured to their destinations, at least to the Ugandan Urban middle class. These Uber prefers to term them as riders given they use the former’s rider app but what about the people that drive them around? The drivers?

Today, we are here to discuss about them. The drivers, the chauffeurs or whatever you prefer to call them and we had an opportunity of experiencing Uber on the driver side of things particularly Uber X. How does their app work? What is so different from their app than the riders? Is their interface the same as that of riders? These and more have been answered while also giving you a sneak peak of a few things reserved on the driver side of things.

The Uber driver/Partner app is available both in the App Store and PlayStore only that you can use it after going through a thorough certification process with a few submittals like

  • A licensed car
  • A valid driver’s license
  • An Interpol Certificate of Good Conduct
  • A national ID or passport
  • KCCA Permit/Sticker
  • Vehicle Insurance Policy
  • Vehicle Log Book
  • SGS Vehicle Inspection Certificate
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All these are validated to ensure that the drivers are on par with Uber standards besides safety concerns and the abiding by regulatory framework in order to not to crossfire with authorities.

A training process commences thereafter and graduands are then certified as drivers, given access to the Uber driver/partner app and all they have to do is enter their credentials, select their vehicle by tapping the accounts tab and chose to go online and yeah, become Uber drivers/partner and commence operations. (More on this later)

Let us talk about the User Interface (UI)

The Welcoming User interface (UI) is quite simple with a Home, Earnings, Ratings and Accounts tabs at the bottom. The navigation map takes a large chuck of the welcoming screen, the activation button is the the top left and a drop down menu at the opposite side that is the top right.

You might be wondering what the heck do all the tabs above represent. Worry not, let us delve into all these tabs, toggle them for you, explain their representation and the different services that accrue once you tap on one.

The activation button lets you choose whether to be online and accept rides or not. This helps drivers to decide when to work and when not to work depending on their preferred work schedule.

The Home tab is of course the welcoming home page with a map as is the case with the riders app. It also displays communication from Uber to drivers normally in a cards format  with tips, promotional information among others.  On cases where a portion of the map is geo-fenced inscribed with a number, the fence depicts an area you are most likely to pick up riders while the number normally followed with a multiplication symbol represents the chances (number of times) you’re most likely to get requests from that particular area.

At times, it might be a heat map  with different colors of Yellow, Orange and Red. All these represent surge at different degrees. While yellow is for low surge, orange is for medium surge and red is for High surge.

Surge for this case means high rider demand in relation to the supply of drivers. Apparently for surge to surface,  the demand for rides is higher than the available drivers and as a result, the fares also shoot up by a particular percentage as depicted by the aforementioned colors.

The earnings Tab of course shows the driver his earnings over the course of the week. It should be noted that Uber drivers are paid per week and this section is a cumulative of their different earnings from different trips as well as other promotional incentives that accrue to their accounts.

The Ratings tab is where you will find ratings from riders normally on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the worst while 5 is the best. Here you also find rider feedback, compliments (The can be in a riders appreciation of car, in-car infotainment system, services among others), a driving style dashboard, pro tips to improve on one’s skills as well a weekly reports.

The Accounts tab is where you will edit your account details like name, number among others, choose the car you’re to use, seek help from Uber, report issues among others, get your Waybill which contains details of your last trip, submit/change bank details and upload and check status of required documents to be an Uber driver as stipulated the third paragraph.

The Experience

Now that you know what each tab represents, let us get into the experience of using the app as a whole. The question tinkering in your head might be like; how do drivers accept rides, how do they get to know where the rider is located, what happens after the trip is completed among others.

A ride request comes in form a  beep accompanied by a sound and tapping the smartphone screen is a confirmation that you have accepted the ride. The second phase is now navigating where the rider is located.

You can do this by pressing the arrow icon located on the top left corner of the screen and then follow directions to the pick up location. For cases where you can’t locate the rider, you can opt to call them by tapping the clipboard icon, selecting contact and then dialling the number on the screen.

After locating and confirming the rider and their destination, sliding the green start trip button at the bottom of the screen starts the trip. After reaching the rider’s destination, sliding the red complete trip button ends the trip and thereafter the payment or break down of the fare information is displayed (For this case it was  a green screen depicting cash). Next is tapping collect cash  and then boom, you get paid, input the rating of the rider, you can as well put a reason for your rating and you’re good to go.

For such cases that you can’t take the rider’s, you can just ignore the request beep (Uber discourages you to) or after confirming, you have to tap the clipboard icon and then select cancel instead of contact, input the reason for the cancellation and Uber will let the rider know that you’ve cancelled their trip.

Other interesting features within the app is the ability to have utmost two trips per day that you can only activate to accept rides taking your preferred direction. This is good if you prefer doing Uber when to and fro work especially for folks with a 9 – 5 job.

It also allows some sort of Facebook Messenger chathead-esque functionality with the ability to allow the driver to do other stuff on his smartphone while the driver app appears as a chathead.

What we would like to see

  • The ability for an in-app chat feature to easily locate riders as some of them input wrong up locations.
  • The option to allow riders tip drivers after the end of the ride.