Designing the new driver app for Cab9 was daunting. We knew what the variables and the problems were but we were also pretty sure that there could be a potential failure waiting for us down the road. However, we realised that to build for the future we would have to clear our desks and start over again. The speed with which applications technology changes also meant we needed a way to do it almost every 24 months.
This meant not only taking a big bet on how things look, but also re-imagining how things flow.
History - Not a great start
We feel the new app is pretty great but great things never come easy. Let's get a few things out of the way first:
- We spent the majority of 2019 designing a new driver app for Cab9.
- After spending 10 months on development, we had to press the reset button.
- While we nailed the design and included a number of cool features, we were unable to solve some of the critical aspects the application such as better location tracking and battery conservation.
- We needed a new approach all together.
Back in 2016, our plan was simple - "Ship the app quickly. Get feedback. Re-iterate". Our app needed the bare bones feature likes finding rides, tracking earnings and communicating with the control team.
We did exactly that. Here's the result:
As the app grew with more features, we started running into complications. Further iterations would only magnify these problems.
We also realised that app also needed minimising taps and streamlining flows.
So here's the timeline of events that followed:
- We hired a brand new team to work on the backend, communications platform and the mobile app.
- We allowed them some time to gel in and work together on different projects before getting straight into the driver app development.
- We spoke to drivers, took feedback, watched them use the app in the car. Notes, notes and endless notes...
- Our designer assimilated these ideas and came up with a "driver first" design which addresses the challenges faced by our drivers who often spend most of their time in their cars with their phones an arms length away. Our new design considers such unique constraints and solves them effectively in a simple way.
- We have now spent over 5 months building our new app and are very close to a launch.
- We are very proud of what we are building. We believe it will set an industry level benchmark.
Onwards and Upwards
With the new driver app here's what the team has worked upon and the areas we hope will have huge improvements.
📍 Location tracking and 🔋 battery usage
With our location tracking we wanted to be as close to the best out there as we could. We wanted it to be smooth - as smooth as it gets. We wanted your passengers to track your drivers seamlessly and that included following the curve at the roundabouts 👀.
One way to do that was to increase the location polling frequency but at what cost? Our original location based services were based on http requests and let's admit they are not the best for battery.
We switched the entire location services protocol to web sockets and applied advanced filtering on the server to make sure the locations are seamlessly being delivered to the respective interfaces.
and the results...
💡A brand new design
In an ideal world we would opt for sequencing our platform design after our product design but with the way things were moving for us, that was simply not an option.
To start with, we came up with a design language that defined the foundational parts of the application such as grids, spacing, typography, colours etc. We used this design language to communicate with our drivers and understand the existing challenges they faced and identify our own blind spots.
Our designer consumed all this and prepared the design that is all about the driver, the things they want to do, and the simplicity they seek.
You can interact with our new app prototype below (thanks Marvel)
🌒 and hey did anyone say Dark Mode?
Both the iOS and Android versions of the app have integrated dark mode.
For us, dark mode is how we like to use our tech so couldn't have it any other way for the drivers. That blinding white thing on the car's dashboard for a 3am pick-up is history...
🚘 A better Job Pool
Job pool is very important for a Cab9 driver. Not only it allows drivers a choice on their work but it also helps companies get work covered days in advance.
With the new job pool, drivers can easily set preferences for the kind of work they are interested in. They can do that by swiping left or right (hey Tinder 🙈).
By making these conscious choices drivers will be contributing to a pool of decisions which will later be consumed by our Machine Learning module to prioritise the work they see on the portal.
🤝 Integrations, Taxi Meters and In Car Payment Devices
The new Cab9 apps supports a range of integrations including:
- A built in meter
- Integration with In Car Payment Devices. Currently the integration supports Cab Card
- Better interface to chat with the control team
- Seamless notifications
- Passenger Signature after booking completion
- Pre configured driver messages
and Coming Soon...
Car Play and Android Auto - This will be big!
🎬 And that's a wrap
The Cab9 development team has worked hard over the holiday period to build an app that we believe will not only be a driver's favourite but will also set an industry benchmark 💪.
Special thanks to Ankit Wadhwani, Akhila Ramesh, Anastasia Petrova, Kaushal P, Harshwardhan Singh, Sharvilak Thakore, Manu Ramesh, David Beech and the entire product team at Cab9. For me, the biggest reward will always be working with this amazing team of engineers and managers who have helped bring this to life.