How Uber’s New Driver App Overcomes Network Lag

How Uber’s New Driver App Overcomes Network Lag

This article is the third in a series covering how Uber’s mobile engineering team developed the newest version of our driver app, codenamed Carbon, a core component of our ridesharing business. Among other new features, the app lets our population of over three million driver-partners find fares, get directions, and track their earnings. We began designing the new app in conjunction with feedback from our driver-partners in 2017, and began rolling it out for production in September 2018.

The competition between urban architecture and wireless data technology means lapses in coverage—dark spots in cities where our phones won’t work. Driving through urban landscapes means finding more of these dark spots, leading to frequent changes in network quality and levels of congestion. These lapses in coverage particularly affect Uber’s driver-partners as they attempt to pick up or drop off riders.

The pain points here can be demonstrated best by an example. Suppose a driver finishes a trip at a crowded airport in Bangalore. The rider wants to pay with cash, and the driver needs to complete the trip in the app to see the final fare.

Pulling up to the curb at the airport, the driver’s phone can’t connect to the Internet. The rider is rushed to make their flight, but the lack of a connection means the driver can’t complete the trip in the app and get the final cost. The driver might drive further down the terminal, taking extra time, potentially extending the trip, and causing frustration for both rider and driver.