Hello, Hailo!

Posted: April 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

   

The black cab is a London icon.  In fact, I would argue, it is the most iconic symbol of the capital.  The red routemasters are gone and while big ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace etc. are wonderful landmarks, our black cabs prowl every mile of the city.  Some of you may be thinking ‘what the hell are you talking about, London cabs are ridiculously expensive!?’… and this is true.  But you get what you pay for.  Ask any American what they like about London and our taxis will be pretty high up on the list.  In Boston, you have to endure being crammed into the back of an old police squad car and you can forget about getting more than two grown men into the back of a New York taxi.

Leave London and you soon miss the black cab.  A few years back, I got off the train at Bradford and couldn’t see a yellow light anywhere.  I called a cab and got told I’d have to wait 20 minutes for a taxi!!  I don’t think I’ve been back to Bradford since.  London cabs make London accessible and Londoners spontaneous.  You can go anywhere and know you’re only ever a hand in the air away from getting home.  However, sometimes it’d be nice to be able to call a black cab to come and pick you up (particularly if you’ve stupidly found yourself stuck in Piccadilly at 2am on a Saturday morning).  Hailo, the new wonderful mobile app dreamt up by two former cabbies makes this a reality…

About 12 months ago, the arch enemy of the black cab, Addison Lee built a mobile app that allows you to call a cab with a couple of clicks of a button.  The app tells you how long the cab will be, sends you a description of the car and issues an email receipt.  Hailo is the London cabbies answer to this.  And it’s better.  I used the app for the first time after a friend’s engagement party in Parsons Green earlier this week.  The app uses your phone’s LBS to tell you how long it will take for a taxi to arrive.  It told me the cab would be with me in 9 minutes, so I hit book. The app then shows the cab moving towards you on a map and a timer ticks down till arrival.  It means you can take your time with your last drink and strategically plan your goodbyes (nothing worse than saying your goodbyes and then standing there, smiling like a cretin, waiting for your cab… and then having to say your goodbyes again).  When your cab has arrived, the app lets you know and you can pay via the app too (if you have your card details saved), so no more going home via a cash point.

Oh, and there’s another neat feature to the app… it sends you a picture and the number of your driver.  So, if Kate Moss is in the driver’s seat with a dishevelled Pete Doherty in the back, you can always take your chances trying to flag down a cab…

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