I just recently found a new app that I’m really enjoying and wanted to share. If, like me, you live in a large city with lots of traffic (Atlanta!), then you may find this app for the iPhone well worth its price…which is FREE.
Really. How could you not?
The waze app is billed as a navigation app that provides real time traffic data from other users… married to the usual sources of traffic data (DOT info, etc.) It’s social media and crowd sourcing plus TomTom and Garmin.
waze performs…as billed. The app provides both visual and spoken turn-by-turn directions in a very natural sounding voice. Enter the name of a new restaurant or select one of your contacts and waze will quickly route your journey.
In Atlanta there seems to be enough users for the app to consistently have good info about what’s happening out there. Although, a warning screen lets you know that all of their maps and routing may not be completely up-to-date and waze sometimes sends you on a path that you know is not the one you’d want…the app says that it learns quickly. I haven’t been using it long enough to verify that claim, but I can say it does as fine a job as my TomTom and built-in GPS.
What makes waze different is its integration of real time information from other users. The program tracks your car’s speed and route…then checks that against all of its other data to develop route recommendations for others. Users can also report incidents on their route (police traps, accidents, hazards in the road, etc.) that will then be used to warn other users. It’s a great feature!
If you’ve ever tried to get from the Perimeter to downtown Atlanta on a Friday afternoon in the rain, you know you’re willing to accept help from most any where. Last Friday I left our firm’s north side location trying to make it home in time for dinner reservations with friends. According to waze, the ride would be predictably long.
The app suggested that I take the Perimeter east instead of my usual route of taking GA-400 South through downtown. I ignored it after I saw that the predicted arrival time was only 5 minutes sooner using the Perimeter. If you’re from Atlanta…you understand why I avoided it. So after trying to get me to reroute back to its suggested route, waze happily moved on and accepted I just wasn’t going to go that way.
There were a couple things that impressed me while using the app. First, the route guidance is sneaky! As I came into the heaviest traffic downtown, the app suggested that I exit onto a surface street ramp (which I did), use the access roads that make up the ramps entering and exiting the interstate, then reenter the interstate a few miles (and likely 15 minutes of wait time) further down my route past a LONG line of cars at a dead stand still. Impressive! I couldn’t believe I had never thought to take that little short cut before! After it used the same tactic in another part of town, I became more and more trusting of what at first seemed to be incorrect advice.
Another functionality of waze is it makes the commute somewhat entertaining and more of a social, humanized experience. If you have happen on another app user in traffic, you can send a quick ping within the app to say hello…or a full-fledged text message (at a red light or at a dead stop). waze will not let you type while the car is in motion — unless you swear that you are a passenger and not the driver. Users also form groups around common commutes or vehicles (ATL MINI drivers, etc.). I found that it helped remind me that the other cars on the road had actual humans in them…not just asses that were trying to drive like idiots.
And most importantly, waze seems to provide very good advice on much better, real time information than was available before. This is the future of mobile and social media! Try it!
Here’s a link: http://www.waze.com/