If you’re stranded somewhere in the big smoke this holiday season, with no idea of where you are, how much you’ve had to drink and where you got that pair of silk suspenders from, have no fear. These handy taxi apps for iPhone and Android mobiles will get you home safe from central London.
1. Addison Lee (iOS, Android)
Addison Lee has just refreshed its taxi app for iPhone and Android mobiles and the new version is a breeze to use. Simply register your details and link to your Addison Lee account and you’re ready to roll.
When you want to grab a ride, just go into the app and set your destination, number of passengers, what kind of car you’d like and when you need it (ASAP is the default option). GPS will pick up your current location and you can even see available cars nearby on the nifty map, complete with ETA. In central London, the wait time was rarely more than five minutes – great news if you’re stuck out in the cold.
Best of all is the app’s flexibility when it comes to payment. If you’ve linked an account, you can pay straight out of your bank balance – no need for a hasty ATM stop. You can even pay via PayPal, or using your credit card. And finally, it’s easy to edit existing bookings, if your plans suddenly change.
2. Hailo (iOS, Android)
Hailo offers another friendly and intuitive interface that’s easy to use when you’re so drunk you can barely focus on your phone. Once you’ve registered, you’re presented with your location on a map, just like Addison’s app, with yellow cab icons representing available cars. And just like Addison, we were very rarely more than four or five minutes from the nearest cab in central London.
Just tap ‘pick me up here’ and a car will be with you asap, with real-time tracking and a photo of your assigned driver, so you know who to expect and how far away they are. And when you get home safe, you can conveniently pay the driver straight through the Hailo app, again removing the need to stop for cash.
3. Uber (iOS, Android)
In the same vein as Hailo, Uber is another on-demand service that matches you with nearby rides when you’re desperate to get home. Once you request a cab, you can again track its progress until pickup. And you can pay using Google Wallet or PayPal if you’ve spent your last fiver on that dodgy kebab.
However, Uber doesn’t give you an exact fare cost before you set off, only a rough estimate of how much the journey will cost you. The actual cost is then derived from distance and time taken, which has caused a bit of controversy with local black cab drivers (as it’s basically a meter system, which they’re very protective over).
One for the future: Maaxi (iOS, Android)
Maaxi is a brand new scheme set up to help London’s black cab drivers compete against the rising band of private taxi firms, and also the only legal ride-sharing taxi scheme in London. The idea is that you tell the app where you are and where you need to get to, and it pairs you up with fellow travellers to split your taxi bill.
We haven’t had a chance to check out Maaxi, which is still in the very early stages of release, although you can download the app right now from the App Store and Google Play.