The user can choose an operator, order a cab online, and await its arrival, is kept updated about cab's location
Last week, a very nifty little application made inroads into the Apple App Store. Called the TaxiMagic, this cool app allows users to book taxis and watch them coming (literally!) on their iPhones!
So what is this all about? Well, TaxiMagic has tied up with leading cab operators in major US cities (except the Big Apple, where strangely enough there is no booking system for cabs) and is set to allow users to choose from a variety of operators listed on their iPhones. All the user needs to do is to choose one of the operators, "order" a cab online, and await its arrival. Cool enough? No? Ok. That is not all. You can actually "track" your cab on its way.
Here's how it works. After you choose the supported operator, all you need to do is pen in your current address. You will be alerted on-screen about the dispatch of the cab along with the cab details and the driver's name. You will be kept updated about the current location of the cab and the distance from the address given. The only thing un-sophisticated about this app is that you still have to pay the old-fashioned way! However, the developers, Ride Charge Inc., have assured an updated edition in 2009 that will add the much sought after online payment method for the service. Sweet!
On the downside, the service, apart from a refurbished UI, should also add in more features like toll estimates and traffic conditions - functions that are already available with certain other taxi-related applications, which are not half as useful as TaxiMagic.
I also wonder if we in India can take a cue from services like these. When I first hard of it last week, I dismissed it with a sly grin; I loathe the yellow-black taxis in Mumbai - most of which are from the Jurassic era. However, a recent court directive has forced a majority of these vehicles off the road, paving the way for safer, non-polluting vehicles.
Although not based on the iPhone, it is heartening to note that we already have similar online services in place. MERU Cabs, for example, already provides a similar service in Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, and Hyderabad. You can book your taxi online (using your computer of course!) days in advance. This happens to be a very good option if you do not wish to be fleeced by unscrupulous taxi operators in case you land up in one of the above-mentioned cities at unearthly hours. Like with TaxiMagic, I did not find an online payment option -I am sure the same would be in place soon, as the market grows.
The reason for this post was to highlight the fact that while the actual iPhone App might not find takers in India, the country is not lagging behind as far as online taxi booking services are concerned!