Ola looks to conquer small cities with lightweight, app-like mobile site
Photo Credit: Shah Junaid/VCCircle

In a bid to acquire customers in small cities, where Internet speeds are slow and low-end smartphones still popular, home-grown taxi-aggregator Ola has launched a lightweight, mobile version of its web site that offers an app-like experience.

The progressive web app (PWA), a mobile site that offers similar experience as a native app but for much less data, will enable the company address the significant market opportunity, Ola said in a statement.

With the lightweight web app, users can book cabs across categories and pay for rides through Ola Money. The one-time password (OTP) verification for rides, use of maps for pickup and drop, and 'ride later' options, among others, will be available on the mobile site as well.

“As the first ride-hailing app in Asia-Pacific using PWA technology, it will enable us to reach an ever greater number of customers and driver partners in rural India,” Ankit Bhati, co-founder and chief technology officer, Ola, said.

PWA, announced at Google's I/O developer conference in San Francisco, provides light and agile functionality for mobile sites. Ola claims that its PWA consumes only 50 KB data on first payload and 10 KB on subsequent loads. While the initial load time on 2G is 3.4 seconds and repeat load time is under a second, it also supports offline bookings.

In October last year, the company had introduced a new feature called Ola Offline, to enable users to book cabs in the absence of Internet. It also integrated the unified payments interface (UPI) on its platform, allowing customers to use their UPI IDs to pay for rides.

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