You Can Call A Waterloo Taxi With An App, And It Works…sort of.

I really should be in bed, but for some reason I’m restless. So I thought I’d write this down.

On Friday night, we tried out a new app that’s supposed to be designed to help you call a taxi easier…and…for the most part, it was a success. It’s kind of a neat idea, that’s for sure.

It’s called Gatahub, and I guess it’s an attempt to link you up with cab companies and other businesses depending on your city. That could definitely rock if this catches on when you’re visiting someone, and don’t know the first thing about cab companies in town. It will allow you to estimate what the cab fare will be, which is also pretty darn awesome. We did one test, and the estimate sounded about right.

Waterloo Taxi uses it, and since we tend to use that one, we thought we’d test it out to request a cab instead of phoning them up, hitting a busy signal, or other annoying things. Here are my thoughts. We did manage to get a cab and get scooped up around when they said it would happen, so I’d call it an overall success. But it was a bit of a clumsy experience. Let me break it down.

On the good side, most of the buttons were labeled and we could hit them with voiceover. Funnily enough, the only button I couldn’t activate with VO on was “complete ride” and the only unlabeled buttons I’ve found so far were the ones used to rate my ride, so sorry Mr. Cabby guy, no rating for you, even though you were awesome. Everything else seemed to work I think.

There was the ability to add a note, which is awesome for things like “I’m at the side entrance.” or “keep an eye out for the blind dude over here.” or “I’m paying using an account,” or something else. Definitely cool.

It also gave me a time estimate for when the cab would arrive, although the cab arrived much sooner. It said it would tell me the cab number that was coming, although I never saw that information appear. Was it there and just not accessible to Voiceover?

Like I said, the ride estimate feature is also awesome, although I think I’d find it more awesome when I’m in a strange town, since I’m getting familiar with how much things cost in this city.

Now, for the less cool stuff. First, hmmm its GPS accuracy leaves bunches to be desired. When we were at our house, it thought we were at a store nowhere near our house. It didn’t even pick the nearby mall. I have no flaming clue how it got it so spectacularly wrong. Actually I think I do. It uses apple Maps to drive it. If this is a reflection of the suck that is Apple Maps, then wow. It should let you specify your maps App.

Second, visually, can you click on the part of the map where you are? I can’t figure out how to target it, so I had to go to a search field to enter the correct address. It worked, but man if there’s a way to click on a part of the map, that would be way easier. At least we had an alternative.

Third, if I search for a Crabby Joe’s, and I’m’ in a Crabby Joe’s, do you really think, Mr. App, that only finding Crabby Joe’s in far away cities is smart? This is why using the search feels extra clumsy. It doesn’t zero in on anything remotely close to where you are.

So, hmmm, does this app make things more efficient for me? I’m not sure. But I guess it’s good to have around anyway, and it’s not a total fail. With some improvements, though, this app would be a super cool tool. It might be kinda helpful for a deaf person who can’t really pick up the phone and call a cab. I hope it catches on, and maybe we can convince the developers to make some small accessibility tweaks.

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