Blog Summary:

This blog is an in-depth guide to help taxi business owners understand how the Uber app works. It entails the features required to build a taxi app, the essential steps, revenue models to integrate, and the technical stack specifications. It also explains the app development cost and hours required to achieve the success of Uber’s business model.

Standing in the street, trying to catch a cab, is the story of the past. Taxi booking apps like Uber, Lyft, and Ola have changed how people commute. By simply opening the taxi app and selecting a destination, a driver will be at their service.

Uber’s business model is successful because it solves a common problem using the most intelligent tech stack and software architecture. With the global taxi market projected to reach USD 462 billion by 2030, the ride-hailing industry is severely competitive.

Offering convenient options for booking, payment, security, and real-time GPS tracking, the need for on-demand apps is more popular than ever. In this scenario, building an app like Uber, Lyft, or Ola might become challenging for business owners.

The following sections will serve as a starting point to commence your app development journey and help you understand how to build an app like Uber.

How Does Uber’s Taxi App Work?

Uber’s business model is called “Unicorn” because its success in the last seven years of its inception gave it a valuation of USD 68 billion, which is difficult to replicate. Hence, building an app like Uber requires understanding how it works on an on-demand technology that connects drivers and riders:

  1. Once a user opens the app, they enter the destination into the search box.
  2. The user then scrolls through all the available types of rides based on the size of the vehicle, prices, and ETA and chooses an option to confirm the pickup.
  3. The rider is then matched with a nearby driver, and a notification is sent to the rider when the driver is a few minutes away.
  4. Before a ride is started with an OTP, both the driver and rider verify each other’s identities based on the details mentioned in the app.
  5. The rider and driver can then access the in-app route and navigation to track directions.
  6. Once the ride reaches the destination, they both provide ratings and reviews to each other.

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How to Build an App Like Uber? 6-Step Guide

Development is the most significant part of building a taxi booking app like Uber; it lets you decide the features that are most relevant to your target audience.

We recommend starting with an MVP development before launching a full-fledged product. Aligning the development with your business goals can be tricky; here are the steps to make it manageable:

Research the Market and Define Goals

Starting a taxi booking app development project requires thoroughly researching the target market. Finding the target market is similar to conducting background checks of an industry’s potential to plan the direction of your app.

It starts by picking a country, a city, or any location experiencing a transportation problem. Since each economy has different demands, it’s important to understand how people generally commute.

This would help define your goals for analyzing market conditions.

For example, if a city has a thriving customer base for on-demand bike apps, there might be better options than opening a cab service. Similarly, if the traffic conditions in a city are normal, even during rush hours, a taxi-sharing business might have more potential.

Identify Your Unique Offering

The next step is to select a business model and identify your unique offering to customers. This requires building user personas and probable scenarios and preparing value propositions.

Based on the niche you offer, you have the following alternatives to choosing a business model;

  • Taxi app for short distances
  • App only outstation trips
  • App for tourists
  • Taxi booking from airports and hotels
  • Self-drive taxis

Creating user stories is also an integral step that enables you to estimate time and app development costs by preparing a storyboard. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Who are your existing customers, and who will be your new customer base?
  • Are your customers willing to try the app, and what are their expectations?
  • How many competitors are there in your market, and how does your unique offering set you apart?

Choose a Development Team

Before you start taxi app development, you should be aware that the methods and resources you choose will ultimately impact the cost, quality, timeline, and success.

While you can also choose no-code/low-code development and build an app with tools, you should be clear on when to choose it over traditional development.

For example, if your budget is higher and the app requires complex functions, we recommend choosing a development team. They can help you prepare app documentation that includes defining all the technical specifications.

Since new technologies like integrating AI and ML algorithms for real-time tracking have emerged, an efficient and user-friendly interface is essential. Low-code tools cannot offer the flexibility to modify elements.

In contrast, hiring a dedicated developers team can allow you to incorporate better security features, integrating payment gateways, tracking interfaces, and even fraud detection systems.

Develop an MVP With Basic Features

Partnering with an app development company enables you to understand the importance of developing an MVP before launching a full-fledged product.

While you can create a verified and approved list of the most basic features that you want to add, the business analysts and designers can help you build a tried and tested process to maximize your ROI right from the initial phases.

An MVP enables you to test the waters before going into production by deciding the core feature on which the app will rely. Here’s how you can determine the priority of a feature:

  • Decide its complexity
  • Find its relevance
  • Identify the time when it is best to implement it
  • Calculate the estimated expense towards it

We recommend starting with a customer-facing app before developing a driver’s app and admin panel.

Implement Advanced Features

Once you have built an MVP and marketed your product enough to keep increasing your customer base, you can start adding advanced features to keep customers engaged. The development team can move forward from here and introduce a cycle of operations that is divided into smaller tasks.

The back-end and front-end of an app require the most responsiveness to handle all user requests smoothly. Hence, a development team can help you build a powerful database storage, server-side architecture, and an interface to implement more advanced features.

Lastly, it’s important to test the app in live environments and different devices to check how each feature is performing.

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Must-have Features for Uber Like App Development

If you’re planning to build your taxi-hailing app like Uber, you need to develop two apps. One is the driver app for partnering with the drivers and a passenger app for the users to book a ride. However, you would also need an admin panel to manage and monitor the platform’s operations.

Let’s understand the features of all three platforms of an online taxi booking business:

Features Required for Drivers App

  • Trip Alerts for Drivers: Alerts are sent to the drivers, informing them of incoming rides, destination information, pickup location, route, and rider details.
  • Navigation: Navigation is for the driver to keep track of the traffic ahead and take shorter routes to the destination with Google Maps.
  • Driver Reports: It provides detailed insights into daily/weekly/monthly earning reports on a driver’s rides, which fares, incentives, and earnings can also break down.
  • Driver Profile: It provides complete information about the driver, including ID verification, license, insurance, and availability status.
  • In-app CommunicationThis feature allows direct communication between the driver and rider through in-app calling and chatting without revealing your phone number.
  • Active/inactive Drivers: The feature displays the drivers who are active and who are taking ride requests and the drivers who are inactive at the moment.
  • Ride Accept/Reject/Cancel: The feature allows the drivers to accept or reject a trip request based on their availability or location.
  • Trip Details and Estimated Fare: The feature displays rider details, pick-up and drop-off locations, and route information based on distance. The estimated fare is also based on distance, time, and surge pricing.
  • Waiting Time: This feature displays whether the rider will be charged extra when the driver arrives at the pickup location and the waiting time exceeds 5 minutes.

Features Required for Passengers App

  • Rider Registration: The feature of the passenger app allows riders to register on the app with their account using their email, phone number, or social media.
  • Ride Booking: This feature enables riders to book a ride by selecting their preferred pickup and drop location and the type of vehicle they want.
  • Calculate Fare: This feature allows riders to check the app’s estimated fare before starting the ride. As they select a type of ride, all nearby drivers are sent a request, and a driver is assigned.
  • Track Rde/Driver: An essential feature of the passenger app, ride tracking, enables riders to monitor the location, car route, and ETA when the driver will be at the pick-up location. They can also track the ride while on the move to check if the correct route is being followed.
  • Cancel Ride: After booking the ride, the rider has the option to cancel it if the driver takes too long to reach the pick-up location. However, they must do so within a specified time to avoid a cancellation fee.
  • Trip History: This feature is for keeping track of previous rides and transactions done by the rider.
  • Ratings and Reviews: Riders can leave ratings and reviews for each ride and driver with whom they have booked a ride and give their feedback.
  • In-app Messaging and Calling: Riders can stay in contact with the driver through in-app calling and text messaging to stay updated when the driver has arrived at the pickup location or if there’s any delay.

Admin Panel for Taxi Booking Apps Like Uber

  • User and Driver Management: It allows admins to manage user and driver profiles, view trip records, and modify user information regarding driver verification and performance.
  • Booking and Ride Management: This feature provides admins with insights into managing ride details and requests, real-time tracking of ride processes, and calculating estimated fares.
  • Location and Fare Management: This feature manages each detail related to the location of riders and drivers, routes, navigation, and fares according to the current traffic and weather conditions.
  • Reviews Management: The admins can manage reviews, feedback, and ratings received from drivers to riders and vice versa and resolve any issues arising from them.
  • Customer Support: Customer support is an essential feature that addresses any queries regarding drivers and riders and manages them from a single point of contact.
  • Payment Management: The feature allows administrators to manage payment methods and multiple modes of payment, track ride payments and transactions, commissions, discounts, promotions, and cancellations, and address any related issues.

Advanced Features and Requirements

  • Heat Maps: Heat maps allow drivers to view the areas through the geolocation API where the ride requests are in high demand and switch to that location to increase their profits.
  • Split Fare: The split fare feature enables riders to split the fare among fellow riders who are traveling in a rideshare or carpool.
  • Language Support: Support for multiple languages allows drivers and riders to choose their preferred language when traveling in a different city.
  • SOS Button: The emergency button is a security feature that can help passengers tap it when they sense any danger. The app can also have an alert when the ride is not moving for a while and is at a halt.
  • Driver tipping: This feature is a bonus to thank drivers by paying an extra amount for their service.
  • Schedule a Ride in Advance: Users can schedule a ride before the actual time they want to travel in situations where they have important commitments, an early flight, etc., to save time.
  • Book a Ride for Others: Users can book a ride for their friends and family from another location. A feature of adding multiple seats can also be added.

Revenue Models in Uber-like Apps

Uber’s revenue model is based on the revenues it earns from trips. Since it doesn’t own a fleet of vehicles, it acts as a mediator between passengers and drivers.

Additional revenue sources involve specialized ride options and in-app advertising. The model works best when there’s a limited supply, and many users can afford to pay extra to use the services.

This revenue model helped Uber generate USD 37.2 billion in revenue in San Francisco in 2023. There are 130 million global monthly Uber users, and Uber conducts around 15 million daily trips.

It earns profit by charging drivers 25% of all fares for using software, commissions on credit cards, and sending invoices. However, the average revenue Uber earns from each ride is unexpectedly quite low, amounting to USD 0.19 only.

Here’s how you can earn revenue from the Uber business model in your next Uber-like app and earn profit from rides, with the following criteria to calculate:

  • Base fare is the flat fee that Uber charges depending on the type of car and area a driver has to pick up and drop off.
  • Cost per mile
  • The cost per minute is calculated based on the prices paid by both the driver and passenger for using the GPS location tracker.
  • The booking fee is for covering operational costs that make rides safe for passengers and drivers.

In this model, the driver is entitled to the rest of 75% with the two most striking features that you can integrate to increase your revenue growth:

  1. Diversified Products: Tailor-made offerings for each customer segment, with distinct cab models assigned for each one. For example, UberX and Uber SUV are for the elite class.
  2. Surge pricing: A pricing algorithm that shoots up the cost per mile based on the ongoing demand. The number of ride requests by willing passengers and available drivers increases the prices.

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Technical Specifications of Some Important Features

Uber’s catchphrase, “get a ride at the tap of a button,” reflects that the technology used in building its features is more than just appealing to users. The complex architecture, processes, and routing networks start working from the moment users open the app to book a ride until they get dropped off.

Its smooth functioning is primarily based on the following most important features:

Geolocation

Google Maps integration works best to track vehicle movement in real-time, allowing drivers to follow GPS directions. Maps SDK and Geolocation API are a must for an app like Uber for Android to fetch price location data.

Similarly, iOS apps like Uber, CoreLocation, and MapKit frameworks are the recommended tech stack for selecting routes and directions.

Routing and Service Discovery

Uber uses a Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) to make routing and service discovery crucial. It uses a combination of HAProxy and Hyperbahn to send JSON and HTTP requests to other services. The front end uses an NGINX web server to establish proxying with back-end servers.

Mapping

Uber’s mapping services run on a Java-based framework for collecting address information, implementing algorithms, displaying, and routing. The framework powering the front end is Gurafu, which works with road map data to improve accuracy and provide sophisticated routing options. This is important for the correct analysis of the ETAs.

The latency of ETA requests is an order every 5 milliseconds. To allocate memory, parallelize computations, and keep making requests, another framework called DropWizard is used to add a layer of business logic over the raw ETAs. Map services include three engines for the backend – autocomplete, predictions, and geocoding for search boxes.

App Logging and Provisioning

Interactions between services and mobile devices for internal uses, such as debugging, are important to run dynamic pricing operations. Uber uses Kafka clusters and archives data in Hadoop.

Uber uses the ELK stack, a combination of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana, for real-time data ingestion and indexing. To run microservices with consistent configurations, it uses Docker containers on Mesos along with Aurora. 

Infrastructure and Storage

Building an app like Uber may require a hybrid cloud infrastructure with a mix of data centers active at multiple locations. In a business model like Uber, cities are assigned to the geographically closest data centers, with their backup stored in a different location on another data center.

Initially, Uber used Postgres for storage, but Schemaless and Cassandra have now replaced it to improve speed and performance. Additionally, the engineers use the Hadoop warehouse for distributed storage. Lastly, Redis and Twemproxy are used for caching and queueing without compromising the hit rate.

Data and Metrics Tracking

Uber developed M3 in Go to collect and store metrics and search for trends. It displays information using modified graphs and dashboards in Grafana. Uber also developed its in-house tool, Argos, for detecting anomalies, examining incoming metrics, and comparing them to predictive models.

How Much Does It Cost to Develop an App Like Uber?

The cost of developing an app like Uber considers many aspects:

  • The number of functions and features
  • App design
  • Code optimization
  • Backend and frontend development
  • Quality testing and performance
  • Geographic location of the development team

You should also keep in mind that a taxi booking app has a driver app and a passenger app. Here’s a tentative breakdown of the development hours and costs for both types of app features:

A typical app for one platform can cost USD 30,000 to USD 60,000, while a feature-rich app could cost between USD 80,000 and USD 1,20,000.

An app with passenger features for a single platform can take 800 to 1800 hours and will cost around USD 90,000 to USD 1,80,000.

A driver app with all basic and advanced features for iOS or Android can consume 200 to 500 hours and is estimated to cost USD 20,000 to USD 50,000.

The cost of the admin panel will be separately estimated, and it can range from USD 7,000 to USD 12,000.

Features iOS Hours Passenger App Android Hours Pass App Approx cost Pass App
Passeger App 800 – 1800 500-1000 USD 85,000
Registration 40 30 USD 3,000
Payments 30 20 USD 5,000
Location & Routing 35 35 USD 6,000
Fare estimation 20 40 USD 5,000
Driver tracking 25 45 USD 7,000
Booking history 35 30 USD 10,000
Ratings 40 50 USD 8,000
Push notifications 50 45 USD 20,000
UI/UX 100 60 USD 10,000
Device sync 80 30 USD 10,000
Features iOS Hours Driver App Android Hours Driver App Approx cost Driver App
Driver App 200 – 500 300-500 USD 35,000
Sign up 20 25 USD 3,000
Booking Rides 10 15 USD 2,000
Rides Status 25 20 USD 4,000
Booking History 18 25 USD 2,000
Driver Destination 50 35 USD 2,000
Driver Report 20 30 USD 3,000
Ride Cancellation 15 40 USD 1,500
Route Building 10 35 USD 2,000
Split Fares 30 50 USD 6,000
UI/UX 90 30 USD 5,000

Summing Up

Building an authentic and original software product is the only way to attract potential customers, retain repeat customers, and evolve your brand image.

While the initial steps to start a product start with estimating the budget, business needs, and target market, it’s the app development team that can understand them and your project.

Choose Moon Technolabs as your preferred taxi booking app development partner. You get a dedicated team of expert programmers, coders, testers, and analysts who can boost your capacity to validate your product discovery.

We develop a detailed Software Requirement Specification (SRS) document that helps you transform your vision into an idea. Contact us to develop an MVP that prioritizes basic features and implements a design interface that appeals to users.

FAQs

01

How long does it take to build an app similar to Uber or Lyft?

The average time to build an app like Uber can take anywhere from five to ten weeks. If you want to build an app with advanced features, it can take more time, depending on the type and number of functions you are looking to add. A fully functional competitive MVP might take two to three fewer weeks if you’re certain about the features you want to add without any changes mid-cycle.

02

How much does an Uber-like app development cost?

The cost of building an Uber-like app can start at USD 60,000 and go up to USD 1,40,000 if you’re planning for one or two platforms. The cost for Android platforms would be higher than that of iOS platforms. Having a blueprint of all the features, navigation paths, and pricing models will collectively determine the final costs.

03

How can we save money on Uber-like app development?

Saving money on Uber-like app development requires a detailed understanding of each development phase and optimizing features according to your priorities. The discovery, design, coding, and launch phases are the most important stages, accounting for 20%, 20%, 50%, and 10%, respectively. Choosing the right platform and development partner, as well as releasing an MVP with thorough market research, will help cut down costs.

04

What software is used to develop an Uber-like app?

There are various software you can use to develop an Uber-like app. If you’re looking to build a mobile app for iOS and Android platforms, you can write codes using Swift and Java. To build web apps, you can use Node.js. Uber app uses Fusion.js, which is a modular JavaScript framework.
About Author

Jayanti Katariya is the CEO of Moon Technolabs, a fast-growing IT solutions provider, with 18+ years of experience in the industry. Passionate about developing creative apps from a young age, he pursued an engineering degree to further this interest. Under his leadership, Moon Technolabs has helped numerous brands establish their online presence and he has also launched an invoicing software that assists businesses to streamline their financial operations.

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