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Waze is a community driving app that makes commuting easier. I’ve been a Wazer, using the Waze driving app, for a couple of years now and it has become part of my daily routine. According to Waze, they are all about contributing to the common good out there on the road and by connecting drivers to one another, they “help people create local driving communities that work together to improve the quality of everyone’s daily driving.” Waze is all about avoiding the frustration of sitting in traffic or running into a police trap and wants to help shave five minutes off of your regular commute by showing you new routes that you never may have discovered otherwise.
So why would you use Waze instead of the myriad of other driving/map applications out there, including Google maps with navigation on Android, Mapquest Mobile for iPhone and Android, Navigon for iPhone and Android? What makes Waze better is the community. The community help each other by reporting traffic hazards, traffic jams, police traps, weather and more. Additionally, the community helps edit the maps, adding new streets and correcting map issues to keep up with construction and road changes. Waze also calculates your route and updates it while you’re on your way, incorporating reports that have been made by other Wazers traveling the same route. It can even suggest a different route if there is traffic piling up or an accident ahead.
Another great feature of Waze is that it learns your favorite routes and will automatically suggest your frequent routes, based on time of day and location. I have set up my Motorola DROID 4 to automatically start Waze when it is placed in my car dock. So, in the mornings, when I get in my car to drive to work, I put my phone in the dock and Waze starts up and asks me, “Are you driving to work?” (This is one of those cool but creepy features, especially for those that don’t want to be tracked in any way.)
In the early days of Waze, I almost gave up on the app, because of the lack of community involvement, issues with the maps and crude map editing tools. Recently, however, a lot of improvements have been made. By partnering with local television stations, the Waze community has grown exponentially. Where there used to be one or two other Wazers on my route during my morning commute, now there are dozens, giving Waze more information to help me. The maps now are very complete.
The cool iPhone UI has finally reached Android and the new beta map editor (available only in Chrome) makes map editing a breeze. One can also create or join groups by area, route or any other variety of reasons, in which members can send each other notes and report items specifically to the group. Other community features of the app include points for reporting hazards, munching roads (confirming that a change made to the map is correct) and miles driven. There is a leaderboard that keeps track of points nationally and by state/region.
Another great feature is that Waze is international, incorporating different groups from regions all over the world. Of course, some areas of the map have been developed more than others, due to the number of Wazers in every region. It’s also free, and available for iPhone, Android and selected Blackberry, Nokia and Windows Mobile devices, so I highly recommend that you check out Waze, especially if you regularly have to fight traffic every day like I do.
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