Daily iPhone App: Hailo is a no-fuss way to hail a cab

Trying to catch a cab in London can be a challenging feat. That's why I've started testing out the Hailo app. Instead of standing around for 20 minutes, I had a black cab respond to my e-hail via the Hailo app. It arrived five minutes after I told the app I wanted to be picked up. It's also why Hailo is today's Daily iPhone App.

Hailo began in London in 2011 and helped usher in the age of e-hailing. The app is simple enough to set up. You download it from the App Store and create a free account by entering your name, email and phone number. A code is then sent to your phone via text message to confirm you are the owner.

To use the app, you simply drag and drop a pin representing your location or wherever it is you want to be picked up. By default, the pin is set at your current location, but you can move it anywhere on the map. As you place the pin, the estimated time of the closet cab to you appears. If you'd like to hail the cab, simply tap the "Pick Me Up Here" button and a message will be sent to the driver, who can then accept the hail and travel to you. As the cab nears your location, you can track it in real time on the map, and when it's one minute away, Hailo will send you a push notification so you can be ready.

Paying for the cab is simple enough. If you want, you can save your credit card details within the app and pay with the touch of a button. However, Hailo doesn't require you to do this. If you want to pay the driver in cash, that will work just fine. After your cab ride ends, you'll get a receipt emailed to you and have the chance to leave feedback about your driver on his Hailo profile.

The app is a lifesaver in a big city like London, where trying to hail a cab can be a nightmare, and calling a cab company to come and pick you up is hit or miss as you never know if the cab will actually arrive. Though Hailo started out as London-only, it's also now in Dublin, Boston, Toronto, Chicago and trying out betas in New York City and other locales.

Hailo isn't without controversy, however. There are lawsuits to try to stop the service in New York City, and in London, multiple Hailo cab drivers told me that since Hailo raised its minimum fee to £10, many users have stopped using the app. The cab drivers told me they knew this because as soon as the limit was raised from £5 to £10, the number of jobs they got through the Hailo app went down 80 percent. What's more annoying is that at busy times, Hailo sets the minimum cab fare to £15 - something London's transport authority is looking into the legality of, as the minimum fare normally hailed cabs can charge is only £2.40.

Local transport laws aside, however, Hailo is a great app if you live in one of the larger cities the company operates in. Hailo is a free download in the App Store.