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Ola launches Ola Play to let riders control the in-car entertainment system


21 Jun 2013
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The next time you hail an Ola Prime vehicle, you might be able to take control of the entertainment experience inside the car and stream your choice of music. The ride-hailing service has partnered with chip maker Qualcomm to offer ‘Ola Play’ – the world’s first connected car platform that offers users immersive and personalized in-car experiences for ride-sharing. The platform is basically aimed at bringing the control over in-car experience from the driver’s console to the hands of the users. It will be available only in Ola Prime in Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi for select customers and will be gradually rolled out to other cities and over 50,000 vehicles by March 2017.

Ola has partnered with Mahindra and Mahindra to integrate the technology into its fleet of cars. The idea is to offer a ride-sharing experience with the feel of being inside one’s own car. As soon as a customer enters the Ola Play-enabled car, their smartphone will connect automatically to the system and allow them to take control over its entertainment functions. Users can take control over music, change radio stations, and adjust the volume as well as the air conditioning using the service. They can also choose to read e-books, watch video content, and also decide on places to shop at enroute their destination.

The Ola Play-enabled cars will also feature large screen devices along with surround sound systems for an immersive experience. The service uses customer preferences over several different rides and uses information like time and destination to offer personalized recommendations. These preferences are tied to the user’s account. So if you are heading to work every morning, your choice of music will be ready to be played along with recommendations based on that.

One of the interesting bits here is that other than its own services, Ola Play also allows other services such as Apple Music, Sony LIV, Audio Compass and Fynd to offer users customized entertainment experiences during their ride. Over time, third-party developers will also be able to develop apps for Ola Play and initial categories for apps will include entertainment, shopping, and tourism.

With the coming of services such as Ola and Uber in India, the competition has increased in the ride hailing industry. These two services are currently battling to become the market leader and are constantly introducing new features and improvements to their services to make it more user-friendly. Ola Play is set to differentiate Ola from Uber as both the companies otherwise offer identical services with almost similar pricing.

Recently, Ola also introduced ‘Ola Credit,’ its new postpaid billing system for regular customers which allows you to avail rides without immediately paying for it. The system gives users seven days of credit so that they can book Ola cabs without having to pay at the end of the ride. Users can enjoy cashless rides and pay for the credit using net banking, debit or credit cards or through the Ola Money e-wallet. This cashless system has been offered in light of the government’s demonetization of the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

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