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Uber app redesign adds real-time language translation for riders and drivers

The ride-hailing company says this will be useful to drivers whose first language isn't English and for riders traveling abroad.

Uber's new translation tool in action.

Uber

Uber is aiming to make it easier for riders and drivers to communicate. In an app redesign that rolled out on Thursday, the ride-hailing company added a language translation tool that can be used via texting. This means if a passenger doesn't speak the same language as their driver, they'll still be able to communicate within the app.

Before now, in-app texts between riders and drivers would appear in the driver's preferred language. With the new tool, both parties can tap to translate a message into their spoken language. More than 100 languages will be supported in the app.

"We anticipate this being most helpful for drivers whose primary language isn't English,"Uber wrote in a blog post on Thursday. "And for riders that are traveling abroad." 

Uber last overhauled its app in September by merging its rides app with its Uber Eats app -- this put its food delivery service front and center. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said at the time that the redesign was part of the company's efforts to become "the operating system for your daily life."

Along with the translation feature, Uber also tweaked its app on Thursday to give passengers more information about their ride status when waiting for drivers to pick them up. The app will now show riders a series of notifications about their pickup, including remaining minutes until the driver arrives, where to meet the driver and instructions on navigating big venues, like airports or concert arenas.

"We've also made the in-app text more comprehensible and visible when a driver is nearing arrival," Uber said. "When your trip is about to conclude, you'll also receive reminders about safely exiting the vehicle."

Uber's new features will be introduced to all users around the world in coming days.