Fact: London has somewhere close to 23,000 black cabs. Question: Why is there never an empty one around when you need it? Enter Hailo, a brand new free app for iPhone and Android, built to link needy travellers with lonely cabbies (of which, we’re told, there are loads). Released earlier this week, Hailo uses your smartphone’s GPS technology to show you the location of the nearest empty taxi. With the click of a button, you can summon it and even keep track of how much longer it will take to reach you. Paying is equally as simple; using a secure credit card service, you’ll only ever pay the meter charge – there are no hidden extras – plus a tip, if you’re feeling generous.
Ironically, it’s all run from the HMS President, moored on Embankment, where the operation currently provides a linkup to around 10% of London’s black cabs (founder Jay Bregman says they’ve signed up 2,000 cabbies so far, making Hailo the biggest system of its kind in the world). The drivers get a great deal, too – the service they receive on their smartphones includes a sharing function and a logging system, so that they can alert crowd hotspots to other cabbies and start to streamline their day more efficiently. It also provides them with a map function, though Jay points out that this only helps them with exact address points – there’s no way an app could outdo a London cabbie when it comes to The Knowledge.