The new feature aims to find a way around slow and patchy Internet services in Indian cities. While it was tested in smaller towns such as Indore and Nagpur, it is also targeted at metropolises, which constitute a major chunk of Ola’s business. “Even in tier 1 cities, there are pockets where there is lack of internet connectivity and network congestion,” Anand Subramanian, senior director at Ola, said.
“This feature takes away the constraint and gives the same experience but offline. In the end, mobility needs to be easy and convenient.”
Ola had recently introduced three new features to improve pick-ups. Ola Hotspots identities entry and exit points of popular locations such as malls, airports and residential colonies. Users can also share directions with their drivers by including details of a nearby landmark or specific instructions. The app will also suggest older pick-up locations when booking newer rides.
Ola will be hoping to tackle the problem of poor Internet connectivity for existing users. Interestingly, in July 2015, Ola had stopped taking bookings on its website and phone because it received over 99% of its bookings through the app.
Ola isn’t the first cab operator to launch such a service. In July, autorickshaw aggregator Jugnoo had introduced an offline service to book rides using SMS, for low internet connectivity. Earlier, travel search app Ixigo and bike-hailing app Baxi also started similar offline features.
In August, Ola’s main rival Uber launched a ‘Dial an Uber’ feature which allowed users to book cabs on the Uber website, without having to download the app. However, it still does not have a fully-offline feature.