The 2000s saw a major paradigm shift when GPS made an entry and put an end to the use of conventional navigational tools such as maps, compasses, etc. and provided an accurate, hands-free way to travel from one point to another.
Many companies such as Garmin and TomTom introduced navigational devices to the market, which became available for all socioeconomic classes of society.
However, the sales of GPS devices dramatically fell by the end of the 2000s with the emergence and growth of the ubiquitous GPS-enabled smartphones.
Today, smartphones have changed the way we navigate on the roads, and with the smartphone becoming an integral part of people’s lives, software developers have moved their focus and started developing navigation apps for mobile phones.
These navigation apps have become commonplace.
Among the leaders in navigation apps in a market with a plethora of options are Google Maps and Waze.
In this article, we will look at what makes the two most popular navigation apps different from one another.
Waze vs Google Maps
What Is Waze?
Waze is essentially a turn-by-turn navigation app.
Waze acts as a social network that is crowdsourced, so the drivers can share information regarding road closures, traffic updates, accidents, police officer sightings, alternative routes, etc., while also giving directions to the drivers.
Waze was bought by Google in 2013.
Although the two share data sometimes, Waze is completely different from Google Maps in terms of its functions, interface, navigation and the social network feature.
What Is Google Maps?
Google Maps, on the other hand, is more like a conventional map that provides directions not only for cars but also route options for walking, cycling and using public transport.
The app is also loaded with additional information regarding monuments, eating places, businesses and all the other elements you can see when using a map app.
Differences between Waze and Google Maps
- Has a social network integration including live traffic updates from other users.
- Can send live updates to your friends informing them about your ETA.
- Offers options for additional celebrity voice navigation.
- Learns your frequent destinations, preferred routes, and commuting hours.
- Searches for cheapest gas available on your route.
- Comes equipped with a traffic jam indicator which counts down the time you will be stuck in a jam.
Waze has several more ways to customize navigation compared to Google Maps, such as the option to avoid highways or choose between the shortest route and the fastest one.
If you want to change your defaults and tweak them according to your preference, then Waze is a better option to use.
- Offers various navigation options – for driving, cycling, walking and even using public transport.
- Offers voice navigation for driving, walking, and cycling.
- Gives live traffic conditions, optional rerouting, and incident reports.
- Can be integrated with Google Street View.
- Provides turn-by-turn navigation on offline mode.
- Displays the business hours of locations searched and alerts you if you will arrive at your destination too late.
- Displays which lane you should drive in.
- Tracks and saves location data.
- Shows map information after looking at various routing options.
Interface and Usability
Waze is similar to a GPS device installed in cars and is a turn-by-turn navigation interface.
The Waze app is meant mostly for driving and the map shows just the roads.
However, it has a search menu where you can put in the specific address or name of the business and be routed there.
You can change your route either through the map view or the text description or once you are actually driving.
Waze zooms into the view like a conventional GPS unit installed in the car.
The system displays details such as road closures, broken down cars, police location, and accidents.
Waze also displays the next turn you should take on top of the screen in a big bold note, with the next turn displayed below.
The Waze iPhone design has had a complete revamp; however, the Android version is still behind in terms of the design.
The focus of Waze is to shorten your driving time and the navigation takes you via smaller side roads to reduce the time of your drive.
Waze does this automatically by making use of the live traffic data in order to keep the route updated without requiring your intervention.
One drawback of Waze is its ads, which you cannot get rid of.
However, these ads are only displayed when you are at a red light, eliminating some safety concerns but potentially annoying users.
Waze also displays sponsored destinations at the top and can make searching quite a hassle.
The interface of Google Maps is quite like a traditional map.
In fact, Google Maps is like a digital version of a conventional paper map that you would use for navigation.
In terms of the navigation options, Google Maps offers a lot more than Waze.
It allows you to search for a specific business name, address or generic terms such as Chinese restaurants, coffee shops, etc.
You can look at the particular area in Google Street View, see the user photos and even read the reviews of various businesses in the particular area.
When you are ready to leave for your destination, you can choose between transportation options on Google Maps such as driving, walking, cycling, and public transport.
Once you select the driving option, the potential routes that you can take are displayed on the map, which also shows you the ETA for each route.
When you are on the road, Google Maps shows the next turn on the top in the large overlay and the smaller overlay below shows the next turn.
If you are driving on the highway and get to an exit or intersection, Google Maps has a lane designation that tells you which lane you must be in.
And, unlike Waze, Google Maps keeps you on the major roads instead of taking you through side roads to save time.
You can program Google Maps to avoid tolls, highways, ferries, etc.
Google Maps does not update your travel route if there is traffic while you are driving.
If a traffic jam is detected, though, Google Maps shows you a rerouting option which you can choose to accept or else, you can carry on driving on the original route.
Apart from the regular map view, Google Maps also lets you see other things such as public transit lines, traffic maps, satellite photos, terrain maps and bike lane maps.
These elements are very useful when you know the city well and want to just check the best route to take instead of using the turn-by-turn navigation feature.
Waze does not include all these features.
Which Is Better, Waze or Google Maps?
It is a good idea to have both Waze as well as Google Maps if you live in a metro city and you drive around a lot.
While Waze is better to use when you go on long drives, it is really suited for in-city driving, as it tends to take you via smaller side roads, residential areas, etc. to reduce your driving time.
This route can be useful if you want to reach a destination quickly.
On the other hand, if you do not mind spending a little bit of time driving through larger and bigger roads, this can get quite annoying.
However, if you’re traveling a longer distance of maybe around 60-70 miles, then Waze can help to reduce 20-30 minutes from your drive.
Waze is also an excellent app when it comes to redirecting you if there is an accident, helping you to switch highways or finding different routes in case the traffic is very bad.
The social networking aspect of Waze is especially handy when you are on a long road trip.
It is especially useful to receive alerts about congestions due to accidents and other causes so that you can decide if you want to stay on the route or take an alternative one.
Also, getting alerts on police presence can be useful in helping you keep your speed in check to avoid speeding tickets.
On the other hand, Google Maps is a much better navigation tool for neighborhood driving.
The search allows you to browse local businesses, and the large map view makes it very easy for you to see which route you’re traveling.
Also, the navigation app is feature-rich which allows you to switch between driving, cycling, walking and public transportation modes.
Being a social app, Waze is suitable in places where it has a large user base where it allows you to reach your destination faster.
In general, Google Maps is a more well-rounded app and is typically more useful than Waze.
So, if you want a more traditional navigation experience, don’t drive a car, are using an alternative transportation, or are simply looking for a business phone number, Google Maps is a more useful navigation tool to consider.