Waze delivers detailed, voice-directed navigation and hazard alerts. But the navigation app goes the extra mile with its crowdsourced, real-time traffic reporting.
Crowdsourced traffic reporting: Waze gathers driving information from you and other Wazers, using the data to display real-time traffic conditions. Wazers can submit information about road conditions, accidents, police locations, and more. Keep both hands on the wheel and use voice commands to submit reports.
Turn-by-turn navigation: Like Google Maps and Apple Maps, Waze lets you set a destination and then guides you over the quickest route. You can also add a midpoint stop. Waze provides audible and onscreen turn-by-turn instructions, alerts you to traffic conditions, and adapts your route based on changing traffic conditions. The Navigate screen displays a list of frequent and recent destinations, as well as calendar events, so you don't have to hunt them down. The app can send an alert when you need to leave, based on current traffic conditions, to get to your next appointment on time. The Navigation screen can also display nearby gas stations, and a speedometer shows your vehicle's speed.
Community connection: Drivers are displayed on maps via mood icons, ranging from happy to sad, with cats and ninjas in between. Seeing other icons on the maps reassures you you're not alone. However, driver locations aren't shown in real time -- they appear after a two- or three-minute delay, to protect drivers' privacy. Not all Wazers appear on a map; they appear randomly and change every few minutes, in part to help with overcrowded maps. You can see Waze friends who are near on the map and track friends' progress if you are heading to the same destination. You can also send your ETA to friends. And if you don't feel especially social, choose an invisible mode to hide your location on the map.
Gamification of driving: Waze offers rewards to entice you to use the app and contribute reports. Earn points for driving, adding friends, reporting traffic incidents, and so on. A scoreboard shows how your point total compares with that of other Wazers. As you gain points, you can customize your Waze icon by adding a mood.
Mixed instructions: With the wealth of info Waze wants to convey, guidance at times seems to tumble out of your phone: onscreen directions, voice navigation, and alert sounds calling for your attention.
Combining real-time traffic conditions, turn-by-turn navigation, and game-like interactions, Waze is more than an interesting alternative to Apple and Google's maps apps. It may be the only navigation and traffic app you need.