Editors' Note: The download button opens the iTunes App Store, where you may continue the download process. You must have iTunes installed with an active iTunes account in order to download and install the software. This download may not be available in some countries.
Any developer making navigation apps for the iPhone has to be looking at the impending arrival of Apple Maps with fear, as it will come pre-installed on iOS 6 and offer turn-by-turn voice prompts for free. But Waze can make a few arguments why its navigation app trumps the upcoming Apple Maps.
The Waze app's initial focus was crowd-sourced traffic, and it has evolved to offer full-blown, free navigation. Its social focus is something that Apple Maps will have a difficult time duplicating, but also limits Waze's usefulness in some areas. Waze's traffic features make it useful for everyday driving, even with known destinations.
The interface loads up with a map view, just like a typical navigation app. This map, which can be set to 2D or 3D views, is filled with traffic flow information on streets along with icons denoting accidents, police, and other Waze users. As the local traffic is garnered from Waze users, how well the local roads are covered will depend on the amount of Waze users in an area.
At the base of the map are two icons, the left one opening up a menu for navigation, a mailbox, and a list of nearby incidents, and the right one launching a reports menu. The reports menu lets Waze users notify the system about traffic jams, accidents, and police cars, or just post general notes. Waze has engineered the reports interface to require very little phone use, but it still takes a driver's gaze away from the road. To mitigate distraction, the app also has a voice command function. Once initiated, it walks the driver through a series of voice-prompted steps to adding a report.
Waze keeps its navigation interface simple, with a search box and icons for points of interest, favorites, and prior destinations. In addition, drivers can program in a home and work address, accessible at a single touch to the navigation screen. These saved addresses make it easy to use Waze during the daily commute. As another useful piece of information, Waze includes fuel prices for gas stations in its points of interest database.
Using the search box to enter an address or business name generally results in a list from Microsoft's Bing search engine. However, a tab at the bottom of the screen lets drivers search a number of other Internet sources and the iPhone's own contacts database. Some of the other Internet sources include 4Square, Yellow Pages, and Google. For each location result, Waze shows the map and gives drivers the option to add it as a favorite, start navigation, or include it in a multi-destination itinerary. Drivers can also use voice command to initiate a destination search.
With route guidance active, Waze not only offers voice prompts for upcoming turns, but also recalculates the route dynamically. The guidance screen shows the estimated time to the destination, taking into account traffic conditions as reported by other Waze users. Waze will show the route on its map with upcoming turn graphics at the top, or the driver can view a list of turns for the route.
As free route guidance, Waze works well enough. We set it for a few destinations around the San Francisco Bay Area, a region with many active Waze users. Its voice prompts called out the names of streets for upcoming turns far enough ahead to change to an appropriate lane. It offered multiple routes to the same destination, along with estimated times of arrival using each route.
A few times while using route guidance Waze did not offer what would have been a useful voice prompt. For example, approaching a three-way freeway junction Waze remained silent, and it was only our knowledge of the area that had us taking the center route. Other navigation systems will provide explicit direction when approaching complex freeway junctions. Also, on reaching a destination Waze would not specify which side of the road it was on.
Waze is strictly an online app, and will not work in areas without a wireless data connection. It does not include a means of caching a route for offline guidance, as some apps do.
The maps Waze uses are updated by community members, which can be a mixed blessing. Active users are more likely to keep up with changes in local roads, but in areas with few Waze users, the maps can become outdated. However, picking a few random areas around the country and comparing Waze maps to Google maps showed very good similarity between the two.
Waze is a fun, community-based traffic & navigation app, 30 million strong. Join forces with other drivers nearby to outsmart traffic, save time & gas money, and improve everyone's daily commute.With community-generated real-time traffic, you'll always get the best route to your destination. By simply driving around with Waze open, you're already contributing tons real-time traffic & road info to your local driving community. You can also actively report accidents, hazards, police and other events you see on the road, and get road alerts coming up on your route too. Find the cheapest gas station along your route with community-shared gas prices. Now Waze makes it fun and simple to meet up and coordinate with friends on the road. Easily meet up, pick up friends, share your drive and ETA, and see who's headed to your destination too!It's all about contributing to, and benefiting from, the 'common good' out there on the road, so hop on board, and get involved in your local driving community today! Live routing based on community-generated real-time traffic and road info Community-contributed road alerts including accidents, hazards, police traps, and more. Complete voice-guided navigation. Automatic re-routing as conditions on the road change. Learns your frequent destinations, commuting hours and preferred routes. Find the cheapest gas station on your route. Meet-up! Pick up friends, share your drive on a live map, see friends also on the way to your destination. Join or create groups to share info about your commute. Earn points and move up the ranks in your community as you contribute road info. Live maps, constantly updated by Waze community map editors.Drive safe! Waze is hands-free and voice-operated.Note: Continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life. Waze automatically shuts down if it's in the background and you haven't driven for a while.
What's new in this version:
Meeting up, picking up, and driving together wherever you're headed - that's what the new version is all about! See friends driving to your destination & everyone's ETA Send a pick up request to grab anyone's location & navigate to them Share your drive by sending a live map of your route & ETA to anyone New design and UI throughout Sign in with Facebook Nearing destination bar Toll road usage indication Private messages Parking location pin Support for iOS6 and iPhone 5