What Is the Waze App?

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What Is Waze?

Waze is a community-driven map app designed by an Israeli company that was acquired by Google (GOOG) in 2013. Waze uses data from app users to provide quicker navigation routes. Data is submitted both automatically as users drive around (using speeds determined by GPS signals) and can be manually entered on the app. Users can report speed traps, accidents, traffic jams, and other things that could slow down drivers.

Key Takeaways

  • Waze is a community-driven navigation map app designed that was acquired by Google (GOOG) in 2013.
  • Due to its community user base, many Waze users like being able to get updated on the fastest route, see where friends are, and avoid reported police traps.
  • However, the Waze platform can be cluttered with too many features, distracting from the driving at hand.

The Pros of Waze

Why would anyone need another map app? For years, Google Maps has been the go-to for mobile users looking for directions or ETAs. While Google Maps is still the digital navigation king, for 140 million users, it’s Waze or nothing.

Waze’s strongest feature is its user community base. Because the app is constantly collecting information, it can adapt quickly to ensure the fastest route possible. Users are able to “level up” and get different characters based on their interaction with the game-like app.

Keeping with the community theme, Waze lets users add their friends so that groups of acquaintances can keep track of each other on a trip, or facilitate chance encounters if a friend appears in a Waze user’s vicinity. The app also allows users to connect to Facebook and Google Calendar to easily find event addresses and create directions.

What else can Waze do? For starters, the app can be used to find community-recommended restaurants along the route as well as navigate to the station with the lowest gas prices. In addition, the app learns from users and can calculate the perfect route for leaving work at 5 p.m. each day.

After Waze was sold to Google, many of its features were incorporated into Google Maps.

The Cons of Waze

One of the largest complaints about Waze is the ugly and cluttered layout of the maps. In an area with little activity or users, the app loses its community advantage over Google Maps. But, in areas with a large community, the number of icons on the screen can be overwhelming. Waze displays maps with other users, hazards, traffics jams, police traps, accidents, and much more; a tiny mobile screen can quickly become filled and make it difficult for users to find their routes.

Furthermore, the app can be distracting. Friends appear, accumulating points ding, ads pop, routes are re-routed, and drive-by incidents beg to be reported. Laws against distracted driving should encourage users to put their phones down when driving, but we all know how difficult it is to ignore a beeping phone.

Some members of law enforcement across the country take issue with Waze’s police reporting feature. They argue that alerting other drivers to speed traps, DWI checkpoints, and police presence are making targets of officers at worst, and encouraging scofflaws at best. Waze disagrees, not surprisingly, insisting that the app increases driver safety because users drive more carefully when in the presence of police.

Another complaint that users have against Waze is the amount of battery power and data resources it consumes. The app is still reporting data to Waze even when it’s not navigating. This means that Waze’s battery drain, while the app is running in the background, is much higher than Google Maps’. For Waze users, having a car charger is essential.

The Bottom Line

Waze is an app for Millennials, a generation of consumers used to getting exactly what they want when they want it—preferably, through the internet and with the help of online communities. Despite the battery drain, data consumption, and cluttered screen, the app provides irresistible time-saving (and sanity-saving!) measures that make it a must-have for millions of drivers.

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