In brief: Uber is continuing to add features to its app that should improve the safety of its customers. The latest one being tested allows riders to record audio on their smartphones during a trip and report it to the company should they feel uncomfortable.
The audio tool was discovered by researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who has been prolific when it comes to finding unreleased features in apps. Her recent discoveries include a dark mode for Facebook’s Android app, along with the social network’s (and Instagram’s) tests that hide the Like counts.
Wong found that the feature, called Record Audio, is part of Uber’s Safety Toolkit, which lets passengers send their location and trip status to friends and family. It can also be used to report safety issues and contact police for emergency assistance.
Uber is testing "Record Audio" in case the rider is uncomfortable with the ride pic.twitter.com/btC5C0F3CN— Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) September 30, 2019
Wong says she wasn’t able to test out the audio feature because she was on an actual Uber ride when she discovered it.
Earlier this month, Uber rolled out RideCheck, one of the safety features it first announced over a year ago, to all drivers and passengers in the US. The system works by using smartphone sensors to detect if anything is out of the ordinary, such as an unexpected or sudden stop, or if a vehicle is taking an unusual route, and sends notifications asking if everything is okay.
Uber has been introducing more features to its app in the hope of making customers feel safer. Back in 2018, a CNN investigation revealed 103 Uber drivers had been accused of sexually abusing or assaulting passengers across the previous four years.