(Credit: Waze)

While Google Maps is arguably the de facto way for you to drive reliably from Point A to Point B -- especially now that it's available in Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto -- it's not the only game in town that's worth considering. Google spent about $1 billion to acquire rival Waze in 2013, but it's largely left its competitor to its own devices (and you can also get it in CarPlay and Android Auto).

SEE: How to use Google Maps in Apple CarPlay: Think different

Today, the latter company announced that Waze Carpool is going nationwide after several months of regional testing. It's an interesting value-add that doesn't step on the toes of Google Maps -- but it may give Uber, Lyft, and other carpool-aware rideshare app makers pause. With an estimated 110 million monthly active users, the popular Waze platform has a large audience to pitch related services to.

In the announcement, Waze CEO Noam Bardin says, "With the help of our community, technology, and data, Waze Carpool matches people who are going in the same direction. This removes the friction of sharing our rides so we can start leaving some of our cars at home and take steps towards eliminating traffic, altogether."

Bardin also mentions "negative trends in traffic," and rideshare services themselves have been blamed as a contributing factor, on the suspicion that an increasing number of customers choose the apparent convenience of ridesharing over the reduced congestion provided by a commuter train or city bus. In theory, by combining ridesharing with carpooling, commuters can get the best of both worlds.

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Waze is also offering complementary programs to go along with the Carpool app, such as a free month of rides for participating businesses, and local governments are being invited to join the company's Connected Citizens Program where riders and drivers share transit data to improve network congestion.

Bardin adds, "Americans come together in times of crisis, such as natural disasters, and have always shown a willingness to help each other, our neighbors, and our communities. We need to treat traffic as such a crisis and bring to bear our ability to cooperate, on our own, for the common good."

Takeaways

  • The Waze Carpool app (separate from the regular Waze app) has now gone nationwide to help commuters get to and from work.
  • It joins a crowded market of other carpool apps, but regular Waze claims well over 100 million monthly active users, indicating a large built-in audience for related transportation services.

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Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.