I’ve been using Waze a lot lately, especially when I go to bigger cities. Waze is a crowdsourced driving and map app that combines quite a few features to make it a handy app for navigating unfamiliar cities as well as roads right in your backyard. Waze’s base maps are loaded by Google Maps, but are crowdsourced when it comes to updates and solving map problems. The app is free and is on iOS and Android. Download the app, and it will direct you in a variety of voices. Personally, I have Elvis’ voice, because it makes me laugh when he yells, “Caution up ahead, baby!” Ahahahaha… but I digress.
Waze’s best feature is its real time traffic and user input. In the sticks of Idaho, that’s not so helpful, but when you get to bigger cities, you get real time information about stopped vehicles, accidents, police, congested traffic, and more. The app will offer quick re-routes if you get into a traffic snared mess. Users are able to leave comments and suggestions you see (and hear) in real time right on the map. In traffic thick areas you’re unfamiliar, having this voice of reason telling you the secrets of the city is fantastic. Waze also displays gas stations sorted by grade, type, price, and distance, handy when you’re in unfamiliar territory and need to fuel up.
Waze is crowdsourced data, so if you do encounter an error, easily mark it and a map editor (which anyone can do!) will make the corrections. There are five levels of editing, with only major areas unlocked for level 5 editors. Even if you are not interested in being a map editor, you can communicate errors to those that do. The Waze community is surprisingly robust and always on the prowl for problems. Waze also has all the hallmarks of social networking, so you’ll be able to send your routes to your friends and see what they choose to share. It links to Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare (which will be interesting to watch since Foursquare is breaking up with itself and creating Swarm).
The biggest disadvantage to Waze is that it requires data – and that’s a problem in many rural parts of Idaho. But again, this isn’t really designed for rural areas, and it’s most effective in larger cities. If you plan on heading out to a remote, cell data free area, navigate to the Google Map of your area and save it to offline mode.
Now get out there and make the most of this last bit of summer!