Uber eyes millions of new riders with the launch of Uber Lite

Lots of other popular online services have done it, and now Uber has joined the club.

We’re talking about lightweight apps for those with unreliable connectivity, limited data plans, or mobile devices with a small amount of storage. Such apps are usually targeted at emerging markets where internet infrastructure is continuing to be developed.

Uber Lite was “built in India” but “designed for the world,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the new app. But India’s population of 1.3 billion people is the initial target for Uber’s new app.

Currently Android-only Uber Lite uses just 5MB of storage — that compares to more than 280MB for the full iOS version (storage for its regular Android app “varies with device”).

Uber’s Shirish Andhare, who takes care of the company’s products for emerging markets, says the new app features a “300-millisecond response time (literally the blink of the eye),” promising that “the booking process is fast even in low connectivity.”

The team has managed to retain many of the core features of the regular Uber app, including in-app support and the ability to share a trip with friends and family.

A new way of doing things

But as you’d expect, there are some differences.

With Uber Lite, you’ll only be offered a map when you ask for one, a process that requires just a single tap. When you choose not to use maps, the app will provide a progress bar showing how close your driver is getting to your pick-up point.

A “guided pickups” feature determines your current location, though if GPS or network issues make this difficult, the app will automatically surface popular pick-up points nearby, one of which you can select with a tap.

In fact, Uber Lite works to prioritize tap over type in an effort to speed up the ride-request experience. It does this using its A.I. smarts to work out how you use the app, such as which routes you take most often. It will then offer these as one-tap selections when you open the app, saving you from having to type anything in.

Andhare says the launch of Uber Lite is “just the start” as it plans to add further updates “like the ability for riders to choose their preferred language for the app during sign up, and request a ride even when they are offline.”

Following India, Uber Lite will launch in additional countries later this year. India is now Uber’s most important Asian market after the company exited China and south-east Asia in the last couple of years. The ridesharing service launched there five years ago and has around 450,000 drivers in more than 30 cities across the country.

Other popular online services have launched lite versions in recent years, among them Facebook, Messenger, Google, Twitter, Skype, and LinkedIn.

Mobile

Benchmark scores surface for Google's midrange Pixel 3 XL Lite

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.
Mobile

Keep up-to-date with the best news apps on iPhone and Android

Are the days of traditional newspapers and broadcast news dwindling? With apps this good, maybe. Catch up on the latest headlines on any platform with the best news apps on iOS and Android.
Home Theater

What is Netflix Roulette, and how exactly does it work?

For years, educated viewers have been using Netflix Roulette to broaden their horizons. The web app can help you find movies and shows you'd never think to watch! What exactly is it, though, and how do you use it? We explain it all.
Cars

Ford’s app-based ‘Chariot’ shuttle service is offering its final rides

Chariot, the app-based crowdsourced ride service owned by Ford, is shutting down in the coming weeks. Launched in 2014, the bus-like service has apparently been unable to deal with competition from the likes of Uber and Lyft.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Mobile

Apple’s iPhone battery offer was reportedly way more popular than expected

As many as 11 million iPhone owners reportedly made use of Apple's cheaper battery replacement offer that launched in 2018 in response to the iPhone throttling debacle — some 10 times more than the company had apparently expected.
Mobile

Rekindled yet again, Nokia’s next-gen phones offer more than just nostalgia

HMD Global, a startup that designs and builds Nokia Android smartphones, wants to put the Nokia brand name back “where it belongs.” It helps that it’s made up of ex-Nokia employees. We go behind the scenes to see how HMD formed.
Computing

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.
Mobile

Samsung rumored to mark 10 years of the Galaxy S line with a 5G model

Samsung is rumored to launch a 5G version of the Galaxy S10, called the Galaxy S10 X. The phone may be larger than the standard Galaxy S10 devices, and feature a very impressive specification sheet.
Mobile

The most expensive Galaxy S10 could be the priciest Galaxy phone we've seen

Not long now; with 2019 underway, the Samsung Galaxy S10 is almost here. Before it arrives, here's absolutely everything you need to know about all three of Samsung's next flagships.
Computing

Yes, Android apps can run on your PC, and it's easier than you think

Wish you knew how to run Android apps in Windows? It's easier than you might think and there are a number of different ways to do it. In this guide, we break down the steps so you can follow along with ease.
Mobile

Unleash your inner artist with the best drawing apps for the iPad Pro

The best drawing apps for the iPad Pro turn Apple's robust tablet into a canvas worthy of a true artist. Here are 20 of our current favorites, whether you're looking to keep things simple or take your art to the next level.
Android

Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2019: Complete Coverage

There's no bigger show for mobile tech geeks than Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain: where flagship phones are born and intriguing new wearables shine. And this year, where foldable phones and 5G are likely to dominate the news. For…
Mobile

C you soon? Rumors swirl of a USB-C port on 2019 iPhones

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.