A cracking in depth article in The Verge about the growing competition between the producers of smart phone apps.
It seems to be between the two big players US based Uber and Uk rival Hailo developed by London cabbies.
Only the bigger cities are using these smartphone apps over here so far, its started in London and Dublin but it wont be long before they spread countrywide.
The idea is that the fare has the app on their smartphone and when they want a taxi all they do is type in their location or even just click the pick-up point on a map.
The software then locates the nearest taxi by GPS and offers the driver the job if they accept then the taxi location, details and arrival time are shown on the fares smartphone. The fare can even track the location of their taxi and ring the drivers mobile phone direct.
Uber is prepaid on ordering the taxi by credit card and is paid directly into the taxi drivers bank account Hailo drivers are able to accept cash payments, which some drivers prefer.
Both systems charge the taxi driver and the fare a fee but Uber automatically adds a 20% tip for the driver.
Could this spell the end for the big private hire taxi operators, and would this be a good or a bad thing for the trade?
The best thing is maybe for the driver who would have the freedom to choose which jobs he wanted and when and where he wants to work.
Drivers would have no need to join the radio or data circuits if they don't want to this would save them expensive weekly subscriptions or radio rent.
But this is unlikely to happen in practice in the areas away from the big city's mainly because not everyone has or wants a smartphone.
The other main consideration is cost because of the extra charges from the app provider and the fact that this system is more likely to be taken up by independent hackney drivers who will run the meter on the local hackney rates which are usually slightly more than the rates charged by private hire firms.
But even though it will be a premium service, I can see it being very popular with the young upwardly mobile taxi users especially when in a strange town and not knowing your exact location or a local taxi number, just two clicks and the taxi is booked.
The other problem is that these app services are not a taxi company or service provider and as such will not be responsible for any lost property or deal with any complaints from fares.