I wrote an end of year best apps of 2012 blog post and listed Waze among the iPhone apps I use / love. But having just used Waze to drive to see my family down in Florida and back I feel I need to elaborate a little more.
Some background first:
I use to own a Garmin GPS, then after getting a Droid I just used Google maps (which is still great BTW), then I switch from the droid to an iPhone and the old native Google maps for iPhone pretty much sucked on the iPhone for navigation. Loved the iPhone, hated the built in mapping application. Ok, no problem I just loaded up the TomTom app, bought an annual subscription to the live traffic service and I was off and running again – quite a bit poorer, but I had traffic and navigation again.
The TomTom application was fine and the navigation seemed accurate, but the traffic service seemed to be lacking. It would calculate a route then I’d run into traffic were TomTom had just said it was clear. Not just now and then, but all the time. Of course after I hit the traffic it would update – great for the next guy, but sucks for me. This is a pay service, first for the app then annually for the subscription, I felt used.
Then I found Waze. A free app and no subscription fees, but they do have unobtrusive ads based on your location. So far the ads haven’t been too bad and I hardly notice them. It’s community based so it’s expected that you help out everyone. And in my area (the DC metro area) there are a ton of users so it really works well. If you live somewhere with no other users I could see you wouldn’t have the best experience. The maps seem complete in the US cities I have used Waze in. And the navigation and routing has been spot on for me. They have made it a game basically, the more you drive and contribute the more points you get. You get new avatars as you move up in the rankings and you can track your ranking against others using the application or with your facebook friends. A little cheesy, but also kind of fun. Once you get into it, you start looking for ways to make points – it’s kind of addictive. So I am still contributing, but at least I expect it and I didn’t have to pay for the privilege. In the end the navigation works as well as TomTom and the timing and traffic reporting seems to work better. Oh, added bonus, Waze also provides gas prices.