The Future of Mobile

Uber tests feature to enable in-app audio recording when you feel unsafe

Tyrone Stewart

Uber appears to be testing a feature that would enable riders to record audio using their smartphones and send it to Uber if they feel uncomfortable during their journey. The feature is likely a response to the widespread criticism the app has received for its approach to dealing assault complaints and its reported subsequent failure to refer complaints the police.

The ‘Record Audio’ feature was discovered within the ‘Safety Toolkit’ by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, while she was sitting in an actual Uber ride. As such, she chose not to test the feature for herself.

The feature is similar to a feature used by Chinese ride hailing giant Didi Chxuing. The company was forced to react after facing intense scrutiny following the deaths of two passengers within just a few months. This led to beginning an in-car recording trial a little over a year ago.

Didi’s in-car recording, which is now a fully-fledged feature of its driver app, records all audio from the start to the finish of the journey and uploads this audio to the company’s servers for a week. If a complaint arrives within this week, Didi keeps the footage and escalates as necessary. If no complaints arrive, the audio file is deleted. With Didi’s version of the feature, there is no option to turn it on or off and every single ride is recorded.