Although Uber has been expanding rapidly in Asian markets like India and China, it faces many local competitors and has been rolling out special features in each market to compete. In India, the ride-sharing competitor Ola raised $400 million in a recent fund-raising round.
More from the New York Times:
Uber Missed Criminal Records of Drivers, Prosecutors Assert
Fading Economy and Graft Crackdown Rattle China's Leaders
An Internet Mortgage Provider Reaps the Rewards of Lending Boldly
The new initiative shows some of the difficulties Uber faces in India, where the number of smartphone users is growing, but they often have slow, low-cost phones and frequently turn off mobile data to save money.
"Our ride times in India are some of the longest, compared to ride times across the world. So while you are there in traffic, you can do things that you are not capable of doing, if your phone is not 4G," said Amit Jain, president of Uber India.
This week, Uber said it had raised about $100 million in financing from a private equity firm owned by the Tata Group, the Indian conglomerate, according to a person familiar with the matter. Uber took a similar strategy in China, taking a strategic investment from the Chinese search giant Baidu.
Read MoreWhat's behind Asia's Uber-sized problem?
Uber has said it will spend $1 billion in India, expanding into new cities and attracting new drivers.
To deal with the unusual demands of the Indian market, Uber allows riders to pay with cash, offers cheaper car options and has an S.O.S. button built into the app that connects users directly with local law enforcement officials.
The button is designed to address concerns that arose in the country after one of the company's drivers, who work as independent contractors, was accused of raping a passenger. In response, lawmakers in the Delhi region banned Uber's services. The ban was lifted this summer.