With smartphones taking over everyone’s lives these days, it is obvious that you are also putting maximum use of it in your daily routine, be it to browse the web, chat with your buddies, checking your social networks, making hotel reservations, online purchases etc, apart from the traditional making & receiving calls!!!!!
With so much new features being added, it was clear that the smartphones will take over the more robust GPS navigation systems like Garmin or Tom-Tom one day. That day has already come and gone and we use the Google Maps or the Apple iOS maps for our navigation when we want to get some directions or even search for nearest restaurants on our way or see how the traffic is and re-route if possible.
Note: Pictures below are screenshots from my Awesome Samsung S3.
What is Waze?
Waze app was initially focussed on crowd-sourced traffic information, but lately it has blown into a fully-functional navigation app, first of its kind which is free to download on Android and iPhone. I have taken several screenshots of the various features of Waze using my awesome Samsung S3 (read review) and I will try to explain each one with a short description. This way we can make this post more reader-friendly and avoid lengthy paragraphs.
1. Report a Traffic Condition – Waze has made it simple enough for anyone driving to report on a traffic incident, and the cool thing is it allows you to add a voice memo and also a picture of the road condition along with it. You can also specify whether the jam is in your lane or the opposite lane thus helping others travelling in either direction.
2. Report a Camera – This reporting feature has some intelligence built into it. I tried to report a camera on my way back from work, and it just wouldnt accept it. Later, when I wasnt driving, i explored it a little further and realized that your report will be taken into consideration, but it will be published only after confirming with the county municipal department for the existence of the camera. Isnt that cool??
3. Getting Social – Do you think it will be nice to allow friends or family to know which route you are taking and where you are currently? Waze allows you to do exactly that, you can “share” your drive with anyone via any of the social networks or just by a mail or a message.
4. Anyone Around? – If any tool or application or website is asking you to link your Facebook profile during sign-up, then be sure that they intend to share all the information around your friends and circles. The same with Waze, you can see your FB friends list and also you can see if any of your friends are “On Your Way”. Now, that is interesting!!!!
5. Settings – The two main features of the Waze app is the customizable Settings menu and the built-in Reports menu. Settings has all the options you will ever need to make the app more customized to your liking and needs. As you can see below, there are a variety of setting features that you can control as per your whims and fancies.
6. Reports - There are several Report options that you might find useful. I have been using the “Traffic Jam” and “Camera” to some extent now, and works well. I also find it a lot useful when fellow Wazers report a Traffic Jam and I get to see that on my route and re-route accordingly. There are several others that I still need to explore!!!!
7. Menu Options – Apart from some of the features mentioned above like the Share, Finding Friends and Settings options, the menu button has some more basic GPS functions like the Navigation, adding a stop en-route and Finding the cheapest Gas around. All these options are neatly coupled and placed inside of the menu options button at the bottom left corner of the app, easily accessible while driving.
8. Display Properties – When you enter a heavy traffic zone, your route will be immediately shown as RED and also shows at what average speed the traffic is moving through the zone. That is quite helpful, but the only con here is that the app doesnt display lane-traffic. In the below screenshot you can see that the route is shown as red, but actually it is the opposite lane to mine which is having traffic!!!! I think a quick update to the app is forthcoming One other improvement they can actually put in is the speed limit for the road or highway, currently it displays at what speed I am driving, but unlike other traditional GPS systems, it doesnt display the allowed speed-limit.
9. Voice Prompts – The Waze app doesnt allow you to type in your destination when you are driving. Though it seems like a safe-bet, it sometimes is necessary. All you can do is use the voice prompt to tell what you need to do, like route or gas or log off. The voice feature is not accurate and sometimes irritates the hell out of me, so I tend to stay away from it.
p.s. Notice the 3 cameras in the below picture, those are the ones reported and approved by the county!!!! Nice to know where they are so I can slow down and avoid tickets
10. Night Vision – The app auto-converts the display to Night vision and shows all prompts and signs in bright colors easily readable for the driving. Some things to note in the below picture – Police en-route (which was actually accurate), traffic jam (which proved to be the opposite lane), fellow wazers (shown all over my route), destination in miles and minutes with current traffic. All those proves really useful and I am sort of hooked onto this app now.
11. Alert Pop-Ups – These are quite handy, when there is a reported incident on your route, a pop-up message comes up warning you of the same, you can dismiss it by saying it is No Longer there, and that gets recorded, so it will not bother other wazers.
12. Extras – As you can see below, the app records you usage, the number of miles driven, the number of incidents reported etc to enable certain features. There is also a small pac-man like game which pops up some candies on your road to eat and earn points. I would say, you better disable such features not to distract your driving
13. Cheap Gas – The Waze app also reports which of the nearest gas station has cheaper gas, thus allowing you to save a few cents as well on your route. Now this can be really helpful when we are on long-drives and will allow us to plan accordingly.
Over To You – So which GPS navigation system do you use for your commute? Have you used Waze, if so do you think it is better than others out there? What are the other features you would love to see in such navigation apps? Do share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Praveen Rajarao is a Software Tech Lead and in his spare time blogs on his website – http://www.dailymorningcoffee.com and http://www.techivy.com. His topics range from blogging to technology to affiliate programs and making money online and how-to guides.
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