Taxi app scene hots up with Network Uncle

Mr Daniel Loh of S2D Solution, the firm behind the app. Use of the app will be free for the next few months during a trial period.
Mr Daniel Loh of S2D Solution, the firm behind the app. Use of the app will be free for the next few months during a trial period.ST PHOTO: DANIEL NEO

The latest app allows a passenger to broadcast his location to cabbies

Another taxi app has been launched for the Singapore market - making it the sixth to appear here in the past three years.

However, the new app, called Network Uncle, is slightly different from current apps such as GrabTaxi and Easy Taxi.

Unlike these apps, which allow commuters to make bookings through the app, Network Uncle does not facilitate bookings.

Instead, the app allows a passenger to broadcast his location to cabbies within a 3km radius.

Cabbies who are logged on to the app will receive a notification on their mobile device pinpointing where the passenger is.

If they indicate on the app that they want to pick up the passenger, the cabby's licence-plate and mobile-phone numbers will be sent to the passenger.

While no booking fee is collected, passengers have to pay $24 a year. This entitles them to an unlimited number of taxi requests. But in a trial, use of the app will be free for the next few months.

"This app will help the taxi drivers not to ply the road blindly," said Mr Steve Loh, operation director of S2D Solution, the local tech company behind the app.

"For passengers, I'm sure they have experienced waiting for a taxi and seeing them all passing by on the other side of the road."

Network Uncle is currently available for Android devices, with an iOS version on the way.

Mr Loh hopes to have 5,000 drivers on the app by March. So far only 60 have downloaded it since its Jan 8 launch. There are about 50,000 active taxi drivers.

He said there are plans to have an e-commerce service, in which passengers can obtain discount codes from taxi drivers.

Mr Loh, 41, said the idea for the app was conceived with his brother, Daniel, 49, who spent nine months last year driving a taxi. The elder Loh is the firm's managing director.

Cabby Vinz Khong, 40, said of the app: "It's still new... I've not made any pickups. I tried other apps but the jobs that come in are not along the way or somewhere nearby. Hopefully, this is better."

Competition between app companies for drivers to use their apps appears to be hotting up, with GrabTaxi announcing a $3.5 million welfare fund yesterday.

The fund entitles drivers who use the GrabTaxi app actively and who display high service standards to make claims of up to $300 a month for medical, accident and emergency-related expenses.

adrianl@sph.com.sg