Ever been standing out in the freezing cold, vainly looking up and down the street for your taxi? Or wondering how long you’ll need to wait after you are ‘Ready Now’?
Zoomy is a Kiwi smartphone app launched this week making it simple to order a cab from your mobile phone – and track it realtime on a GPS map. The brainchild of two ex-telco blokes James Fisk and Neil Macdonald, they are backed by local tech investors with app development undertaken by Auckland company Roam. Zoomy packs other features like pre-ordering rides up to 3 days in advance, driver photos and license plate numbers, and soon, the ability to make payments through the app using your credit card via the DPS gateway. The receipt is even emailed to you – no more hunting for scraps of paper to make your expense claim.
There’s no Facebook or Twitter login for the free smartphone app as yet (it’s on the feature list for the future), so you’ll need to grit your teeth and create an account and password. Once you get past that, the slick app walks you through the taxi ordering process and the map shows all the cabs in your area. Ordering a taxi sends an alert to the five nearest drivers, allowing one to accept it. Zoomy shows you how long it will take for your cab to arrive and you can check where the taxi really is on the GPS map. Great for when you are in the office or getting ready to leave at home and don’t want to waste time standing around outside.
Zoomy has a rating system so passengers can rate their taxi drivers, although you can’t yet choose a particular driver at order time so you potentially may get a poorly rated one turning up. Awkward. Zoomy tell me negative feedback is passed back to both the driver and the taxi organisation for action, and deregistration from the Zoomy system could result. There is potential for inebriated customers to abuse this system (after all, if you’ve been drinking that is why you called the taxi) so a driver could end up with an unwarranted rating with the passenger not remembering anything about the ride.
Discussion round the office was mixed. Guys seemed to think they would just walk to the nearest taxi stand, no biggie. Girls, in their stilettos, agreed that anything that saves extra walking or prevents rain soaked hair was a damn good idea. The only slight hesitation was not knowing the quality of the taxi drivers and cars – we’ve all been in a less than acceptable taxi at some point.
Zoomy is free for the passenger (they will charge the driver a fee for each successfully completed ride) and across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch they have 16 approved taxi companies signed up, including Corporate Cabs. If Zoomy can onboard some of the other major taxi companies then there really is no downside to the customer. In return the organisation will get real time analytics on drivers and rides completed, while Zoomy clips the ticket on the way. In some ways it is similar to the popular overseas ride service Uber.
Available in both iOS and Android, this looks like a slick app, and will stop me from stressing about where my cab is, especially when I’m in a hurry. I’ll look forward to seeing how this service develops further and hopefully getting more drivers and taxi companies onboard. What do you think – is it something you’d use?