Two months ago,
Google won a bidding war for Waze, an Israel-based navigation app. Google purchased Waze for ~ $US1 billion and today, Google Maps users will see the benefits of that buyout for the first time.
Waze, unlike Google Maps or a traditional GPS, is a social navigation experience. Millions of drivers rely on the app to avoid traffic based on real-time feedback from other Waze users who are travelling on the same road.
Waze users leave feedback such as where an accident occurred, where construction work is taking place, and how slowly they’re currently driving.
Google Maps is adding Waze’s most important features to its next update and will start placing real-time information about what causes traffic on its users’ routes. It isn’t borrowing Waze’s cutesy design, or adding driver profile information that clutters your screen. It’s only extracting pertinent information.
As someone who gets lost so frequently it’s developed into a quasi-phobia, I use a traditional GPS, Google Maps and Waze while driving. Up until now, I’ve plugged in my GPS, double-checked the route with Google Maps, then opened Waze as soon as I hit traffic to figure out the cause. I never leave real-time updates or feedback on Waze. I’m more of a lurker.
Now that Google Maps is pulling in that information, I can ditch Waze once and for all. Especially because Google’s VP of Maps, Brian McClendon, says the “cross-pollination” between the two apps will continue “as much as possible.”
Google isn’t ditching Waze yet though. It plans to keep both apps running for the time being. McClendon tells AllThingsD, “Long-term speculation, I probably wouldn’t get into, but right now they are two powerful separate applications.”