Uber Announces Redesigned Mobile Apps That Feature Machine Learning and More

Uber’s biggest assets are the app which lets people hail cabs and the system which connects the passenger and the driver and also plots the trip. Over time, they have piled on features on the app which has made it confusing for some people and this is why they are announcing a new design for its apps and it is all going back to basics.

“To recapture the clean and simple aesthetic of the original Uber experience-without sacrificing the choice our riders now expect-we rebuilt a faster, smarter rider app completely from the ground up,” The company said in the post.

So how does the new user interface look like? Well, now they are centering the experience on one question: “Where to?” which makes sense since that is usually the intention while you want to hail a cab.

The redesigned app will learn from your routines so that if you are a frequent rider, it will use some form of machine learning to predict where you are going which in turn makes the app display shortcuts. You’ll also connect your calendar with the app so that the appointments in your calendar will appear as shortcuts so as to remove the hassle of looking for the address with another app (like Maps.)

Another new feature is where Uber wants to label people as places too. Uber knows that people use their service to meet friends and labelling your friends as places will make it easy for them to use it. So, you’ll only sync your contacts with the app, type their name on the search bar and if they share their location, you’ll be on your way there.

They are also simplifying how you would use the various products:uberX, UberBLACK and UberPOOL. Uber will let you compare the cost of all these options so that you can judge which product you will use depending on the situation. For uberPOOL and uberX users, people will be able to see what time you will arrive.

The company has also promised other features that will be integrated in the core experience that are tailored to where you are going like seeing the upcoming departures, tips on places to visit (powered by Foursquare) or even order food if UberEATS is in the city you are in.

The new features are being rolled out globally on the iOS and Android apps over the next several weeks.

SOURCE: techweez

Naspers may sell Souq stake to Amazon

Amazon.com is weighing a bid for a stake in Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com as the e-commerce giant seeks to expand in the Middle East, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The stake, representing at least 30% of the company, is also drawing interest from private equity firms and regional, family-owned companies seeking to expand into Web sales, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private.

Souq.com’s advisers reached out to a large number of potential bidders for the holding, which may value the company at least US$1,2bn, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and the company has not agreed to a deal with any of the parties, the people said.

Spokesmen for Souq.com and Amazon didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Souq.com appointed Goldman Sachs Group to find buyers for a stake sale, people familiar with the matter said in September.

Existing investors Tiger Global Management and South Africa’s Naspers are open to selling part of their holdings, and the sale may ultimately be for a stake larger than 30%, the people had said. A representative for Tiger Global declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Naspers said the company can’t acknowledge or deny its involvement in any deal.

The company secured $275m from investors after Tiger Global and Naspers, among others, boosted their investments in February. CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar said in an interview at the time that the company would be open to selling shares to the public in the future.

Economic growth and a rising population in the Middle East is leading to increased investments in the consumer industry by companies and private equity firms.

Careem, a ride-sharing service that competes with Uber Technologies in the region, is seeking as much as $500m in new funding, people familiar with the matter said in September.

SOURCE: techcentral

Vodafone Fined £4.6M by Ofcom For Breaking Customer Rules

Regulator Ofcom has fined Vodafone £4.6m for "serious" breaches of consumer protection rules, its largest fine to date for a telecoms operator.

The regulator said Vodafone had misled pay-as-you-go customers, charging them for top-up credit but "providing nothing in return".

It also found Vodafone had broken the rules on handling customer complaints.

Vodafone offered its "profound apologies" and said it was "determined to put everything right".

Billing glitch
The fine stems from two earlier investigations into Vodafone, which has 20 million mobile customers in the UK.

One found that 10,452 pay-as-you-go customers lost out when Vodafone failed to credit their accounts after they paid to top up their mobile phone credit.
The affected customers collectively lost £150,000 over a 17-month period, Ofcom said.

The problems were caused by errors linked to the company's move to a new billing system.

However, Vodafone "failed to act quickly enough to identify or address these problems" and only moved to fix the issue after Ofcom intervened, the regulator said.
What went wrong at Vodafone?
    When a Pay As You Go phone has not been used or topped up for 270 days, Vodafone disconnects it from its network after a 24 hour transition period.
    But due to errors linked to the firm's move to a new billing system, it stopped disconnecting inactive SIMs for 17 months between 2013 and 2015.
    Customers were able to continue paying for top-ups at cash machines and via other methods for "significant" periods of time, which should not have been possible.
    Although receipts of their top-ups were issued to some customers, Vodafone did not credit any of its customers' accounts, or provide them with the services they had paid for.
A second investigation found that Vodafone's customer service agents were not given "sufficiently clear guidance" on what constituted a customer complaint.
Moreover, poor processes meant some complaints were not handled "in a fair, timely manner".

The firm also failed to ensure customers were told, in writing, of their right to take an unresolved complaint to a third-party resolution scheme after eight weeks.

'Unacceptable' failings
In a statement, Vodafone said it had "fully refunded or re-credited" 10,422 Pay-As-You-Go customers out of the 10,452 affected. It said it was unable to track down the remaining 30 affected.

It also said it had invested in better customer service and training.

"Everyone who works for us is expected to do their utmost to meet our customers' needs," it said.

"It is clear from Ofcom's findings that we did not do that often enough or well enough on a number of occasions. We offer our profound apologies to anyone affected by these errors."

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom Consumer Group director, said: "Vodafone's failings were serious and unacceptable, and these fines send a clear warning to all telecoms companies.

"Phone services are a vital part of people's lives, and we expect all customers to be treated fairly and in good faith."
Source: BBC

Rob Shuter to Take MTN Reins on 13 March, 2017

Rob Shuter, MTN’s incoming group president and CEO, will join the telecommunications operator earlier than previously expected.
Shuter, who is serving notice at Vodafone, will join MTN on 13 March 2017, the group said in a statement to shareholders on Monday. MTN had previously said that Shuter might have joined the group as late as 1 July 2017.

“Rob may commence as soon as it is practicably possible in 2017 but not later than 1 July 2017 after the completion of his current contractual obligations,” MTN said in June this year when it announced Shuter’s appointment.

MTN chairman Phuthuma Nhleko has been acting in the CEO role since November 2015 when former CEO Sifiso Dabengwa resigned following the imposition of a record-breaking fine on the group’s Nigerian subsidiary.

Nhleko, who assumed the position of executive chairman on 9 November 2015, will revert to his role as nonexecutive chairman as soon as Shuter assumes his new position.

“With the completion of my two key mandates of settling the Nigerian regulatory fine and appointing a new group president and CEO, I will revert to my role as nonexecutive chairman as soon as Rob assumes his position as group president and CEO on 13 March 2017,” Nhleko said in Monday’s statement.

In the interim, while I will continue as executive chairman to provide oversight, I will delegate more operational responsibilities to Gunter Engling, acting chief financial officer, and Stephen van Coller, vice-president of mergers & acquisitions and strategy,” he said.

“I will also ensure that all outstanding senior management appointments are completed and the new senior management team is fully settled in before year-end.”

The appointment of a new group chief financial officer to replace Brett Goschen, who resigned earlier this year, as well as a “few other outstanding senior management changes and appointments” will be concluded by year-end, he added.

Source: Techcentral