E-hailing app Hailo has unveiled a couple of new features to try and run Uber off the road.
Hailo is driving defensively after the wheels came off the app's US operations earlier this month. So it's introduced Pay with Hailo, which allows you to pay for a cab through the app even if you didn't hail the taxi through the app, and Hailo Hub, which allows hotels and restaurants and other venues to book you a cab.
Hailo is an app that connects taxicab drivers with passengers through their smartphones. Instead of cabbies driving round on the hunt for fares and passengers standing on streets with their arms out, the app allows you to find and hail the nearest cab on your phone or tablet. Payment is automatically taken from your registered credit or debit card through the app and you're emailed a receipt.
The new Pay with Hailo feature brings this in-app billing even to cabs you didn't book via the app. So all you have to do is flag down a taxi on the street, and -- as long as it's a Hailo cab -- you can jump in, whip out your phone and connect the app to the cab in question. Tap the Pay with Hailo button and set a tip and there's no need to produce any cash. Paying this way does incur a 50p charge. As when booking through the app you receive an electronic receipt.
With Hailo Hub, hotels, bars and other venues can book multiple rides for guests with different pick-up and drop-off points. As the passenger, you're updated in real-time by text when your cab is arriving, and you then pay through the app as usual.
Founded by a team of cabbies and entrepreneurs in 2011, Hailo was subtly different from rivals such as Uber because it uses licensed taxicabs instead of private hire vehicles, better known as minicabs. However, this year Uber has started offering taxis and Hailo has started offering private hire cars -- converse moves that have proved controversial with taxi drivers.
This month Hailo ceded ground to Uber by pulling out of North America entirely. Hailo still operates in the UK, Europe and Asia; UK cities Liverpool and Leeds are the latest to join Hailo today. Meanwhile Uber is active in more than 200 cities in 45 countries, while another rival Lyft covers more than 60 cities in the US.
Hailo's new features were unveiled at an event in London -- home of the iconic black cab -- today at an event hosted by mechanoid-turned-motorhead -- and occasional CNET columnist --. Llewellyn, better known as "Red Dwarf's" Kryten, appeared onstage alongside Rory Reid of Sky's "Gadget Geeks" and -- who could forget? -- the CNET UK podcast.