In another move directly aimed at taking control of its territory and catching up with Uber in tech, Indian ride-hailing giant Ola has debuted an in-car entertainment system called ‘Ola Play.’ Developed in partnership with chipmaker Qualcomm and powered by proprietary in-car and cloud technologies, it has been dubbed as “the first connected car platform in ride sharing.” But, is it? Let’s have a look.
Ola has launched the connected car platform, as the company likes to call it, with the primary aim fo transforming the riding experience by providing users with an immersive and personalised in-car experience. This hands over control of prominent car functions, entertainment services, and other console options from driver to the commuter taking the ride. One has complete control over Wi-Fi, music, navigation, car sound, and temperature, among other things during the ride.
Commuters can experience ‘Ola Play’ on their own devices or the large screens installed within the vehicle. The latter will enable the users to try out a more uplifting experience as it will be coupled with car’s surround sound systems. You can also use this in-car tablet to read ebooks, watch videos and search for nearby locations to visit. In addition, Ola Play has been described as an intelligent and context-aware system which will process customer preferences and current ride information(like time and distance) to offer personalized recommendations during the ride.
Commenting on the launch of the platform, Bhavish Aggarwal, Co-Founder and CEO at Ola said,
The entire Ola team is proud to launch Ola Play, the world’s first connected car platform for ridesharing. I believe this will completely transform the consumer’s ride experience, giving the user the power to control the interactions within thecar, and usher in a new era in the ridesharing industry.
Since commuters spend a humongous 60 million minutes in an Ola ride, the ride-hailing giant believes that an enriched user experience could be transformative. Thus, it has partnered with the likes of Apple Music, Sony LIV, Audio Compass and Fynd to provide a more personalised and interactive audio/video experience to its users. Ola has also extended its recent lease partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra, who plans to deeply integrate this technology within its vehicles, enabling both companies to build holistic solutions for the ridesharing community.
In addition, Ola being one of the few unicorns of the Indian startup ecosystem also took the time to emphasise the importance of the in-car entertainment system being developed by a young team of Indian engineers. It reiterated its stance and counted itself at the forefront of the Startup India movement — an initiative started by PM Modi to support entrepreneurship among the youth of the nation. The ride-hailing giant further added that it is aiming to join the ranks of global leaders with its technological innovations.
Commenting on the launch of Ola Play, Jim Cathey, Senior vP and President(Asia Pacific and India) at Qualcomm said,
We continue to invest in developing solutions for the next generation of connected cars. The latest advances in telecom infrastructure and data connectivity have redefined how individuals and machines interact with each other. We, therefore, wanted to create in-vehicle communication solutions that take advantage of this. We are proud to work with Ola for this unique offering and believe that this is a step forward towards a comprehensive connected vehicle solution that will become reality in the not so distant future.
This move to launch ‘Ola Play’ comes on the heels on the recent app redesign from Uber, which places the destination and our close friends and family at the top-most rung of priority. The application doesn’t only introduce a revamped interface, upfront pricing in beautiful and minimalistic colors and icons but also provides you in-app entertainment services from partners like Pandora.
The ‘Ola Play’ service will initially be made available to Ola Select users in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi, starting next week. The company plans to expand the interactive entertainment service to all Prime users across the country by March next year. Ola aims to transform more than 50,000 of its ride-hailing vehicles in the said time frame.