Update Makes Uber Easier to Use for International Travelers

Oct 19, 2018

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While Verizon’s been my go-to for talk, text and data in the US, I’ve long been a fan of Google’s Project Fi for international travel, letting me add a data-only SIM to TPG‘s account to surf the web in more than 170 countries and territories for just $10 per gigabyte. The only issue is, it doesn’t support traditional phone calls, making it impossible to ring an Uber driver when things don’t go exactly as planned.

As Engadget reports, Uber is finally rolling out a new feature that’ll eliminate this international-travel headache once and for all: VoIP support.

VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, enables voice calling over a data connection — think Skype, or Apple’s FaceTime Audio. You don’t need a SIM card with traditional calling support to use VoIP — just a decently fast data connection, a capable app and a device with a compatible microphone and speaker.

VoIP support also lets Uber users call a driver over a Wi-Fi connection, making it possible to get in touch even if you don’t have roaming support, or when you’re hoping to avoid hefty international fees when using your home SIM abroad. The new feature also entirely eliminates the need for Uber to reveal phone phone numbers, as may still be the case in some markets, and saves drivers from placing expensive calls to international numbers when getting in touch with a rider from another country.

You don’t have to use VoIP, of course — you can continue making traditional phone calls if you wish, which may be the most reliable and least expensive option at home, especially if your megabytes come at a higher price than voice minutes. I’m beyond excited about this latest addition, though.

Featured image by Oli Scarff/Getty Images.

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