Waze, if you’re part of the cult, is a way of driving life, the default way of navigating and a way to know more about the journey. It also helps others, knowing and communicating ETAs and being a safer, better driver.
With more than 150 million worldwide in 185 countries and 50 languages, it started in 2006 as FreeMap Israel, and was bought by Google in 2013.
A free driving-focused navigation app, Waze is now the world’s largest community-driven traffic and navigation app, offering real-time reporting and live rerouting, vehicle speed and speed camera/police warnings.
Using Google Map data, it’s focused on driving information, and user feedback for traffic density, car crashes, cars broken down, or road hazards and even police.
It also offers conventional nav elements such as home and work saved points, favourites, and the ability to share a drive, for example with a family member to easily advise the traffic, any issues and ETA – plus alternate routes and one waypoint. This is one key advantage of Google Maps, however, with multiple waypoints/planning.
Route planning also predicts traffic on certain days at certain times, and hours. So why do so few Kiwis know about it, much less use it? Possibly a bit like TradeMe over eBay or the completion of every sentence with the word ‘eh’, kiwis like to do things a little differently and have their own things, do it their own way.
However, using Google Maps is clearly not a bad thing, but Waze makes it even better, as it’s a community-driven app where the more the merrier. Road closures, map errors can be reported and there’s even a scoreboard for frequent uses as reward for helping the community, along with seasonal navigation voices and special car avatars.
Find Waze on Apple or Android as a smartphone app, compatible with most new cars’ smartphone replication systems, and also starting to appear as factory navigation in some models, including Renault. Routes can even be pre-planned on a computer and sent to phone.
With 100,000 volunteer community members around the world, one of those is Waze New Zealand’s social media manager, Hayden O’Brien, who chatted with us about Waze, its benefits over Google Maps and some of its features that help kiwis, and users around the world navigate Christmas and beyond – the more users the merrier for all, as anyone who’s used Waze in bigger cities such as Sydney, Los Angeles or London will attest.
New Zealand, on the road, let Waze find the right ways around.