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How To Develop an App Like Uber: Tips from Taxi App Developers

“Have been ubernized?” – a co-worker asked me the other day while I was making my brew.

“What do you mean? We don’t use surge pricing for our services if that’s what you ask,” – I was pretty puzzled.

“Yeah, but we are getting more requests for taxi booking app development than ever,” – he grinned

When there’s an opportunity, a savvy business owner or startup-founder-to-be will always think of a solution. Uber disrupted the service market on a vast scale and made on-demand services the new world trend, which steadily transferred into food, cleaning, design and numerous other market segments.

Taxi business owners were among the not-so-happy crowd, however. Their standard operational model was seriously challenged. Those, who didn’t feel particularly great about adapting to the new realities started global anti-Uber campaigns.

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Yet, smarter folks started asking the right kind of question instead – how to make an app like Uber for my business?

This post is here to guide you through the essential development knick-knacks.

The first thing you need to know about developing an Uber clone app is that you actually have to build two slightly different apps, which would be connected to your admin portal: one for the passengers and one for the drivers.

Passenger App: Essential Features

  • Register/login page: the best way is to offer social media integration for registering, though an email option is also ok.
  • Booking interface: A screen where the user will input their travel data and hail a cab or book one for later.
  • Fare calculator allows to estimate the cost of the ride prior to placing an order.
  • Driver’s rating and reviews: feedback left by the customers’ on the driver, the trip, and the vehicle.
  • Messaging to contact the driver and settle the details e.g. exact pickup point.
  • Payment: Users should receive a fare quote and pay it in-app. They can securely store their credit cards for one-click checkout.
  • Push notifications: Keep the user updated on the booking progress and deliver the necessary information on their ride e.g. car model, color, number on the plate and ETA (estimated time of arrival).
  • Ride history: Displays details of the previous trips and receipts, plus can allow re-booking the same ride in one click (e.g. for the standard work-to-home commute).

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Driver App: Essential Features

Some of the driver app features will duplicate the passenger’s – login, push notifications, support and messaging. And there are additional unique features as well:

  • Driver profile and status: Drivers should be required to provide extra verification e.g. their license and tax number when they register. The status functionality should help them adjust their availability and schedule.
  • Order alert: push notification plus information on the new booking – payment, route details etc. Should allow accepting and canceling orders.
  • Navigation suggests the best route to the passenger and onwards.
  • Estimation: States the order price with discounts (if available).
  • Reports offer a quick glance on trip stats, earnings, and payroll.

Now, here are some additional (and much requested) features to consider for a taxi booking app:

  • “Split the bill” – Uber recently introduced this feature of sharing the ride costs with friends, however, most users are not happy with the UX/UI. Update: Uber already implemented this feature.
  • “Request my favorite driver” – ok, so all of us develop certain likings towards some peeps. Some users may want to hire their “regular” for a drive if s/he is working.
  • Voice commands – when you are too buzzed to type (if you know what I mean 😉
  • Waitlist – during peak hours users can add themselves on a waiting list, rather than refreshing the app over and over again in search for a ride.
  • Free in-app calls – can be added via VoIP integration, though that may increase the overall taxi app development price.

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Admin Panel

Your admin panel is a robust web app to store, manage and review all the in-app activity. It should offer you a quick overview of all the processes; suggest the best navigation for drivers and trips; manage revenue and payroll and collect data on your clientele for further enhancements.

While your company can survive without one, moving your service further may become quite a hassle. We suggest investing in admin panel development from day one.

How to Build a Mobile Taxi App: Development Process and Technology Stack

Uber has recently gone as far as opening up their API to any 3rd party developer out there and introducing a lucrative affiliate program for each US-based user brought on board. This means that you can create a very simple hybrid app like Uber, attract and refer users and earn your paycheck from this.

If you are looking for a more custom solution, however, and choose to hire taxi app developers for the project, here’s what goes into the development:

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Geo-location Services and Routing

Uber uses GPS services to identify the customer’s current position, display the cars in the neighborhood and build the best route for the driver (with real-time navigation). The fare is also calculated based on the proposed routing.

In fact, the routing and GPS technology is one of the key elements of the app’s popularity among users – you just press a button and watch how a vehicle approaches you. What stays behind the scenes, is how much work actually goes into building such a smooth feature.

Technology Stack Used:

For iOS app:

  • CoreLocation framework for region monitoring.
  • MapKit framework to suggest the best routes and directions.
  • iOS also allows using Bluetooth beacon and Wi-Fi functionality to enhance location tracking.

For Android app:

  • Google Location Services API to pin down the user’s location.
  • Google Maps Android API to build routes, directions, and navigation.

In both cases, a nice maps alternative is OpenStreetMap API.

Development Timeline

It takes approximately 120-140 hours to build location and routing functionality. Depending on the developer’s hourly rates this feature may cost:

  • $4,900 – $35/per hour.
  • $8,400 – $60/per hour.

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Payment Integration

One of the Uber’s main early selling points were in-app payments, which eliminated the need to look for small bills, wait for change or get overcharged by the taxi driver.

Additionally, users can get a pre-ride fare estimate and decide whether they want to take a ride or not. Dynamic pricing also applies depending on the traffic situation and car availabilities (e.g. discounts or add-on fare during peak hours). Uber takes the following four factors into account for a price quote: base fare, cost per mile/km, cost per minute, safe rides fare.

To price surge or not to price surge? Deciding whether you want to use dynamic pricing based on the current demand and traffic situation is certainly up to you. While some users don’t mind paying “extra” for a guaranteed ride, others may feel as if they are being taken advantage of. The dynamic pricing model is getting quite popular among big companies including Airbnb, hotel booking websites, and other service providers, which offer services with limited availability. Scarcity can be a powerful sales factor, yet not all the consumers feel pleased with such approach.

To offer in-app payments you’ll need to choose the optimal payment gateway integration. Our taxi app development company recommends one of the following:

  • Braintree – now part of PayPal. Unlike other gateways it allows splitting the fair and offers simple PayPal integration. Venmo touch feature allows building a one-click checkout.
  • Stripe – was designed primarily for developers and has a lot of powerful APIs to use and customize.
  • PayPal’s mobile SDK allows processing both credit cards and payments through a PayPal account.
  • Apple Pay and Google Wallet can be considered, as additional payment options if those are popular with your target audience.

Apple Pay in general is now becoming a more popular payment solution, especially for Apple Watch users and those valuing their security (cause authenticating a transaction with your fingerprint is pretty cool, right?)

Of course, there are hundreds of other payment gateways out there and it’s 100% up to you which to choose for your app as long as it is mobile-friendly and PCI compliant. Also, mind those processing fees, which may add up quickly!

Development Timeline

Your developers will spend between 100 and 120 hours on meticulously integrating the right gateway and making sure everything is secure. Depending on the hourly rates you may spend:

  • $4,200 – $35/hour.
  • $7,200 – $60/hour.

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Design and UX/UI

You want a pretty app, do you? A mobile app for taxi service should be simple, intuitive and smoothly convey all the information and required user steps. Here are the key principles of great UX/UI design:

  • Familiarity
  • Simplicity
  • Digestibility
  • Clarity

Design Timeline

The timing will heavily depend on how many custom animations, transitions and interactive elements you wish to implement. Our team will gladly advise on the best patterns. You can check out our portfolio to get a better idea of how our products look and feel.

Let’s take the median number for design – 200 hours.

  • Business analysis and UX design – 80 hours.
  • UI design – 120 hours.

That would total as another $7,000 to $12,000 to the overall cost to develop a taxi app.

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Registration/Login Page and User Profiles

Typically, users are required to create a profile with a taxi app before booking the first ride. You may wish to allow “no-profile” bookings at early stages to grow your database or suggest creating a profile when a user already found a ride and wishes to finalize the deal and pay.

Social media integration is a go-to choice these days, while you can still choose to support email registration as well. Make sure your app requests access only to essential user data and clearly states that it will never post anything on their behalf.

The driver app should require more complicated registration and immediately request a photo, car license plate number, copy of the driver license.

Additionally, you may wish to integrate a rating system to leverage the app’s security and boost customer satisfaction. As they say – let the garden weed itself. Your customers will be able to rate and comment on the driver’s behavior and diligences and you, in return, can take respective actions in terms of bonuses or fines.

Adding a bit of gamification – badges, reward levels with special bonuses etc. – can encourage more users to leave reviews and drivers to act respectively.

Development Timeline:

Implementing registration and profile creation will require between 120-140 hours. So how much will you pay?

  • $4,900 – $35/hour.
  • $8,400 – $60/hour.

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Messaging and Notifications

Now let’s talk some talk

The driver and the passenger may need to exchange some information e.g. instructions on the pickup point, estimated time of arrival, short updates if there’s a delay and so on. Uber has a simple in-built text messaging system for that – a “lighter” version of a standard chat app like WhatsApp. Developing such a solution, however, will require quite a lot of time, so you may want to leave it out for the initial product option.

Additionally, your app should send out standard push notifications informing users on their ride details and drivers on the possible new orders. We highly suggest using Firebase framework. This technology is cross-platform, offers robust functionality and enables faster development.

You may wish to use SMS notifications along with/instead of Push, however, that may add-up additional costs brought in by the 3rd party service provider. Email notifications are kind of “old school” these days. Yet, you may use emails to send out receipts – folks, who are getting reimbursement will definitely appreciate that.

Technology Stack

  • Google Firebase framework or Apple Push notifications for iPhone.
  • Twilio, Nexmo, Plivo or your local telecom provider can be used for sending texts.

Development Timeline:

  • Push notifications – 36 hours.
  • SMS integration – 20 hours.

That will add up to:

  • $1,960 – $35/hour
  • $3,360 – $60/hour

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So How Much Does It Cost to Develop a Taxi App Like Uber?

As always giving an exact price without knowing all the specifications is quite challenging.
It’s not that app development companies keep the numbers hush-hush on purpose. On the contrary, we are all hands up for transparency and do our best to give the most accurate estimates based on the incomplete data.

The final app price is usually defined by:

  • Platforms you wish to support (iOS, Android, Web).
  • A number of user-stories to solve a.k.a. what exactly should your app do and how?
  • Whether you want a full-feature product or just an MVP to validate your idea first.

A simple taxi booking app can cost you around $25,000-$40,000, while a more sophisticated Uber-like solution can go as high as $100,000-$150,000. The NextWeb estimated that Uber development costs as much as $1 million to $1.5 million.

Alty team would be glad to provide you an accurate project estimate based on your specifications and a detailed product development roadmap. Use the contact box below to drop a line!

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