Uber
Close-up of an unrecognizable woman using the Uber App on her Lenovo A916 smartphone in a Renault car. Uber mobile app allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars/engadget.com

Uber now allows riders and drivers to communicate over voice over internet protocol (VoIP) in addition to SMS texts, in-app messaging and regular phone calls.

The Verge reports that Uber announced the global availability of the VoIP feature at a conference in San Francisco on Friday.

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VoIP sends data over an internet connection rather than over cellular. Because international data plans can be quite expensive, this could appeal to US riders traveling abroad.

The Verge also notes that VoIP option could come in handy for riders in locations teeming with people competing for cell service or where cellular reception is generally unreliable.

The VoIP addition might also appeal to drivers who prefer to keep all of their communications with their fares in-app. Another benefit of VoIP is privacy; neither rider nor driver is forced to use their personal phone number.

While many riders in the US might not often see a reason to use VoIP to contact their drivers, Uber users in other countries and drivers who want to keep all Uber activities in one place may appreciate the new VoIP feature.