iPads may soon replace TVs in the back seat of taxis, and New Yorkers are already swooning at what a tablet computer might add to their ride.
The city is expected to receive a formal proposal next week from Square, a mobile payment company, to test tablets in 50 cabs. While it’s not known what functions will be on the gadgets at this very early stage, the program’s features are expected to exceed those of Taxi TV, the passenger-facing monitor introduced in 2007.
“An iPad in a cab could accomplish a great deal, because the community for building stuff out is so much more robust, so there could be so many more functions than” with Taxi TV, said tech expert Shelly Palmer. “We could have really wonderful content that’s location-based … like videos, or places to stop, or other things to do.”
Passengers are also pumped at what could come.
“I want an app when you say ‘Flatbush,’ they take you there,” said Monique Graham, 35, of Flatbush.
Added Margarita Iefiemova, 23, of Jamaica: “For children, I would like to see some games … maybe crosswords.”
“I’d like to see [voice] ID technology, so I could make calls,” said Kenrick Chan, 21, of Sheepshead Bay.
Maribel De La Cruz, 25, of the East Bronx, said she wants a “map app” because “I’ve had cabs take me all around instead of going straight to [my] destination.”
The tablets will be embedded in the partition where the Taxi TVs are, and will run only an app built by Square specifically for NYC taxis.
While Square declined to say what exactly what will be built into the app, such as games or Web browsing, the company said any type of iPad feature could be added at some point.
Still, there are limitations. The Square app is the only one that can run – which means no Angry Birds or Words With Friends – and everything will have to be done within the app.
Regardless, passengers are eager at what may await.
“I’d love an app that lets me enter my destination and choose my own route,” said traffic expert Gridlock Sam. “And one that lets me check the traffic reports.”
Reps from the Taxi and Limousine Commission did not return calls for comment.