Ola Play, your ride-sharing infotainment

Next time you get into an Ola Cab, you may just be able to access rich entertainment content to make that drive a bit more fun


Initially, the Ola Play features will be available to Ola Select customers in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
Initially, the Ola Play features will be available to Ola Select customers in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai.

All those times when you have dreaded being stuck in rush-hour traffic, and wished there was some movie you could watch or a TV series you could catch up with, as a way to keep you entertained? Well, if you are using Ola Cabs, your prayers may have just been answered. The ride-sharing company has announced the launch of a service known as Ola Play.

The Play setup is essentially a two-part infotainment system—one console that is for the driver, and a second console that is for the passenger. These include entertainment options such as movies, trailers, and TV shows, information and features that are linked to your trip, a web browser and connectivity with certain apps such as Apple Music, Sony LIV streaming app, Audio Compass and Fynd.

For starters, what you will get is high-definition content, which is already stored and available for viewing on a 10-inch tablet. You can simply tap and play any of the preloaded content, and watch it for the duration of the journey. The second link, and this is perhaps even more relevant for most users, is the connectivity with your smartphone. With this, for example, users will be able to stream their favourite Apple Music playlists and listen to them through the in-car infotainment system’s speakers.

The phone’s connectivity with the Ola Play platform happens through the Ola Cabs app on your phone—you will need to update to the latest version to get these features, and it can be downloaded for free on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and the Windows Phone Store.

That is not all. This is the age of artificial intelligence and machine learning, based on smart algorithms. And Ola Play isn’t potentially getting left behind on that bit. Over time, Ola’s algorithms could learn the favorite music or movies of a customer, and could potentially automatically offer to play back the content they were watching the last time they were in an Ola Cab, for instance.

This is not the first time Ola has tried some smart in-car connectivity options. Last year, Ola introduced Wi-Fi access for their customers. Incidentally, rival ride-sharing service Uber has integrated streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora in some countries, but is yet to do something similar in India.

Initially, the Ola Play features will be available to Ola Select customers in Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The Ola Select is a subscription-based service, which allows users access to priority requests, no surge pricing and more, at Rs499 per month.

Ola says that the Play services will be rolled out to 50,000 more vehicles on their platform by March 2017, which are in the process of being upgraded with the dual touchscreen infotainment systems.

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