Wheely for iPad and iPhone review
If London's black cab drivers are the best in the world (and they are), her minicab drivers are a mixed bunch. Every long term resident of the metropolis has a story of a minicab that didn't know its way around, or took a roundabout way from a to b via x in order to boost the fair. And that's before we get into the dangers of trying to get an essentially unmarked cab in a strange part of town. London's big, and it's impossible to know a reliable and inexpensive minicab firm in every area. Enter Wheely.
Wheely is a free app for Android phone, iPad and iPhone, (but not Android tablet) that adds convenience to the cab-booking process, and may even save you money. Because the journey fee is agreed before you step in to the vehicle, you know exactly how much you're going to pay regardless of how long the journey will take. Given London's notorious traffic, that can only be a good thing.
And if you do get stuck in a jam, all of Wheely's vehicles offer free onboard Wi-Fi so you can keep working as you wait. Or, let's face it, you can send emails, surf the web, Tweet about your predicament and generally faff about as only the internet allows you to faff about.
Wheely: The App
The app is simplicity itself on smartphone and tablet. Simply hit 'Book a cab' and the app zones in on your current location as the pickup point. Then either scroll around the map, or input the postcode of your destination to select a dropoff point. One major caveat here is that when we inputted our home postcode, it wasn't recognised. Why? We live outside London. The app is very much a London only service (which is a little strange when only one of the airports is actually in London, and literally millions of people commute in every day).
Once you have established your journey parameters, you hit 'get quotes', and input your name and number. This in turn creates an account for you, and sends you an SMS to verify that you are an actual human with an actual phone. You only have to go through this stage the first time you use the app. You are then quoted a price, a cab firm and type of car, and a time for the car to turn up. Hit Accept Order and your cab is on its way. It's that simple, and in our tests at least, totally reliable.
You can track where your cab is, and send a message to friends saying where you are. Needless to say all the cab firms involved are fully licensed and registered with Transport for London. The prices seemed reasonable, if a tad on the expensive side (but then cabs always seem expensive to us).
There are several taxi apps serving London, and it is worth installing at least a couple to make sure you are getting a decent deal. But Wheely offers solid coverage and a very simple, straightforward process with no hidden costs or nasty surprising. A definite app for any Londoner's smartphone.