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Review of Hailo: the taxi app

Location apps in general have come to occupy the same place in my heart as X-Men movies. Promising so much yet leaving me unsatisfied and with a bunch of merchandise I need to throw away. Take Foursquare for example. Their churn rate must be enormous-I’ve installed it on at least four separate occasions only to nuke it about a week later. But then yesterday I discovered Hailo, which shows the world how a location-app should actually work (assuming you’re in London).

Hailo is essentially a pretty simple service: it orders you a cab based on those available nearby. According to our driver (Ian M), about 10% of London’s 26,000 black cabs have signed up (they get their own driver app). All drivers have their own rating (by previous Hailo passengers) and brilliantly, all passengers also get a rating assigned by the driver. Naturally this scared the crap out of me so I spent most of the journey trying to be charming (difficult when a) you’re trying to quiz the driver and b) me in general).

Other than actually making my life easier, Hailo has a couple of other nice touches:

1. Emailed receipts: regardless of how you pay, you get emailed a receipt. From an expenses point of view, this is just awesome. Also, it removes the random pieces of mulch that end up living in my pockets.
2. Adding tips: Hailo lets you add a credit card so you can pay with the app (our driver said they took about 4% which he felt was pretty reasonable). However a nice touch is the ability to add a tip with every payment.

A few extra things I’d love to see in future releases:

1. Show my recent taxi-drivers. 2. Book a pickup time: if I need to book a cab for the airport or train station, I still use Addison Lee just for their reliability. Hailo has a huge opportunity to take a chunk of this market.

3.Show me my passenger score! With a public API, this could rapidly become London’s new credit crating. Jay Bregman and team may possible have unleashed a monster with this alone.

Backed by Atomico and Wellington Partners, Hailo clearly have the resources to go far with this. If you spend any time in London, check it out.

(After writing this I realised that Urbanspoon still lives on my iPhone. So there’s at least two useful location apps in existence)