Waze is an awesome new free GPS navigation service which promises to radically improve the road travel experience in a number of very cool ways. For one thing the software – available in 4 languages for just about every phone platform on the planet – learns as you drive, so it will pick up on your favourite routes and suggest those after a while, which is something I have always wished for in a navigation package.
The coolest thing though is the collective data functionality, whereby each Waze user contributes in real time to the delivery of traffic and incident information. This means that if you hit a traffic jam the program will immediately and automatically log it, update the map in real time and offer a route round so other users can avoid it. There’s even a chat system built in so you can ask other users what’s causing the holdup if you get stuck in the same jam.
The map and application interface is first class, and the functionality is going to be totally awesome once they get the kinks out of the system. I say kinks, but I suspect it’s more like startup glitches. Hopefully. For example the maps are entirely Waze user created, so if no user has driven around in your area, there are gaps where roads should be.
This really is a massively collective task, and one which could put a few people off. But the other more geeky folks will love the challenge of mapping out their area by switching on the automatic ‘Record a New Road’ function in the software. I’m wondering why the Israeli developers didn’t just use Open Maps or whatever as a base point to get up and running faster. Probably because of the need to keep the map data as small as possible to enable efficient real time updating at this level.
Also I suspect it’s because the user community is clearly destined to be a huge part of the program. This is not just a free GPS navigation program, it’s a potentially huge club of road users, drivers, cyclists and even pedestrians, each contributing to the quality and reach of the service. It’s a great way to differentiate your product and generate a viral and loyal userbase. This could turn out to be a very sticky application indeed. Mark my words, this is an absolutely superb idea, and the execution, even in these early days, looks to be top class. Grab it now and enjoy!
Waze is a social mobile application that enables drivers to build and use real-time road intelligence. The service includes constantly-updated road maps, alerts on traffic and accidents, and data providing users with the fastest route to get to wherever they need to go. Map and traffic updates are automatically collected and generated as users drive with waze activated, but drivers can also actively report and update other users with what’s happening on the road including accident alerts, police traps, weather hazards, cheap gas offers and more. And the best part? Because the map and all of its content is driver-generated, waze is completely free for users.