With the rise of smartphones came the rise of GPS navigational apps. Whether using the free maps app available with most smartphones out of the box or an app from one of the big names in the GPS industry, like Garmin or TomTom, people use this convenient feature more and more each day. It’s a way to reach those that may see no need to own a handheld GPS device, or buy a car with built-in GPS navigation. But what makes one app better than another? That all depends on what you are using it for, and also how much you are willing to share of your location data, such as when using the popular crowd-sourcing navigation app Waze.
Waze is available for both Android and iPhone platforms, and boasts over 19 million users. This unique app uses the power of social networking to make getting around less of a hassle, and offers users much more than your standard map app or GPS device. Drivers not only get free turn-by-turn directions to a destination, but also updates regarding road and traffic conditions as shared by their peers.
How Does It Work?
Waze uses GPS and cell-tower triangulation from other users of the app, which determines traffic flow and offers server-side processing of an ideal route. Drivers can add information on routes as well, whether a picture of a traffic nightmare, where to find speed traps, gas prices along your route, where to park, and where any accidents have taken place. It also includes Twitter integration.
How is this free? It’s simple: there is no need to license mapping data as it relies on government street map templates. No one is paid by the company to update maps as the users take care of this for them. Users are given “Waze Points” if they contribute to map updates in any way, such as driving down a road that is unmarked on the map.
The Next Step
The company imagines so many great things for the future, and plans to take the next big logical step at the end of this year: in-vehicle GPS navigation integration. Waze has announced deals have been secured with automakers who are at this time undisclosed.
Vice President of Waze, Di-Ann Eisnor said in a statement, “This is clearly the wave of the future. Connected cars allow us to share information seamlessly between the application and the sensors of the car. Imagine being offered a route to the cheapest fuel based on your fuel levels, or given cautions when windshield wipers are in use or even taking pictures of incidents right from your vehicles cameras.”
The first vehicles offering the Waze-connected GPS navigation devices are slated to be available later this year.