Hands-on: Addison Lee app review

Addison Lee, not satisfied with being London's biggest alternative to the black cab, has created a new app to make it the most convenient too. This is the taxi company's second version of the app, re-designed from scratch. As such it's ironed out all the creases and created an impressive transport offering. One we enjoyed so much we feel a little lost now the review process is over.

Cabs can come quickly

Since Addison Lee went the iPhone-only option with this app it has obviously had plenty of time to focus on perfection. The result is a clean, simple and easy to use cab-calling platform. In its most basic form a user, upon opening the app, is met with a pick-up map which quickly pinpointed our location within seconds. Then a tap of the right arrow and a drop off point can be selected just as simply from the map.

A really nice touch here is the time it will take a driver to arrive being listed at the bottom of the pick-up screen. Users can move about the pick-up location to see if that speeds up the arrival, if they're in a rush. It's genuinely useful to have this at a glance rather than calling to find out how long a wait is expected on a pick-up.

We set a pick-up at a station, arrived on the Underground a minute before, and the car was waiting ready. An impressively seamless way of travelling that we could definitely get used to.

The finer details

The next steps are a case of choosing from a selection of options. The time can be "ASAP" or "Later" to select a specific date and time. The "Passenger" section decides what size car will be sent, either under four persons or over. Then users can choose between a Standard, VIP or Hybrid car – probably depending on wallet size and environmental conscience.

Then users have the option to add a note to remember what the ride was for, which appears in a confirmation email for one's records. Finally there is payment, which can be in cash on drop-off, from an account, or by card through the app.

Track your driver

Once a job has been logged the app will store it in the "My Bookings" section.

The current job, when selected, shows where the driver is. Selecting this option immediately brings up a map with the user location and the driver's vehicle. The car can be tracked as it moves closer on the map with an estimated time of arrival updating too. This information updates automatically every 30 seconds. When we used it the timings were spot on, to within a few seconds.

It was really reassuring to be able to see how far away the car was and to know exactly when it would arrive. Tracking the driver's choice of route was quite fun in an oddly voyeuristic way. Ideal if you're waiting inside a bar, it's raining outside and the company is boring you.

Fast track

Regularly used addresses can be placed in a "Favourites" section so pick-up or drop-off is a one-touch affair. A home address can also be set so when out and about a simple "Take Me Home" selection will do exactly that with few other actions needed. For users with regular routes these options could be really helpful as a time saving assistant.

There are also options to search for a location using text, find a spot using a map pin, or to scroll through lists of useful locations like airports.

Final thoughts

While Addison Lee is still one of the more expensive taxi options, you get what you pay for. The cars are always a high quality Ford Galaxy, when choosing the standard option. And the service is, in our experience, usually very professional.

The app makes ordering a car almost too easy, especially with the ability to pay by card or account. It sort of feels like a free ride since cash is never changing hands – potentially dangerous for the old bank balance then.

While we can see this app taking the pride of place on the iPhone home screen of many regular users, who have an account, it might be a little pricey for others. Nonetheless this is a great app to have to get users out of trouble when stuck, late or without cash. But with competition from the likes of Uber and black cab calling service GetTaxi, it's got its work cut out. 

READ: Uber: The new taxi service hoping to change getting a cab in London