Version Reviewed: 1.7.0
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Waze is a free, social, mobile navigation application for iPhone that combines geo-gaming and crowd-sourcing to provide users with real-time, live maps/map data, reflecting travel conditions in users’ areas, such as traffic congestion, roadway construction, police “speed-traps,” etc. It's a live description of the road/driving conditions around them.
Waze features, among others, the following:
Because Waze is user-generated, its effectiveness is dependent upon the number of people using it. Waze’ ultimate goal is conceptually sound: A social, mobile application that its developers and network of users/drivers actively build upon to give its users a snapshot of their road/travel route at any given moment and the most optimized route to their location.
Waze is not a navigation application. Navigation services are designed primarily to guide those using them to specific locations. Waze is designed to facilitate driving to the places users already know, by providing them with real-time conditions that could affect their route, such as traffic delays, construction areas, etc.
Waze is also fun (via its geo-gaming component). I get bored while driving and am already caught up on my reading list for the next few months. We’ve all seen today’s society occupy themselves while driving, e.g. women putting on make-up and fixing their hair, men putting on make-up and fixing their hair, etc. That said, if you have to use a navigation-based application, why not make it fun? This is where “Chomping-dots” and “Road Munchers,” the geo-gaming aspect of Waze, comes in, making it even more unique and purpose-driven. Map and traffic updates are automatically collected and generated as users drive with Waze activated on their iPhone. However, drivers do have the option of actively reporting and updating other users with what's happening on the road, by reporting accidents, police traps, construction areas/hazards, etc. Using the “Chit chat” event, reporting options are endless.
Waze is feature-rich and comes with a vast array of customization options, such as the ability to select a car icon from a list of 14 different types, the ability to modify privacy settings so you can remain anonymous while driving and reporting hazards, the ability to set routing options and many more.
Users are represented on Waze' primary display screen by their pre-selected car icon (I’m rolling in a Ferrari, in case you didn’t notice).
this screen is dynamic and changes as users input data. All Roads/Highways are “un-validated” and are lined with “Road Validation” dots; this is where the geo-gaming element comes into play: When a user drives over an undiscovered road/highway lined with road validation points, his/her car icon turns into a round, white “Road Muncher,” (also called a “Cookie Muncher”) resembling an albino Pacman with feet and a tail and “chomps” the road validation points/cookies (You also get points for driving roads that have already been driven, recording new roads, etc.).In so doing, the user/driver is validating that road, sending its geo-physical data to Waze servers and earning validation points, for participating in the crowd-source/geo-gaming feature(s).
The geo-gaming aspect of this game, road validation, is very clever on the developers’ part and very appealing and addictive on the users’ end. In my case, Waze is maybe used by one other person in my city, so there are road validation points galore!
Waze is also capable of learning different routes users take to frequent destinations, such as school or work. By saving these destination addresses and traveling these routes a couple of times, Waze can advise its users which route is moving the fastest.
While using Waze, I found it to be finicky. Its map display was oftentimes not consistent with my location and I found myself “driving” on roads parallel to me or near me. Overall, it performed decently and the turn-by-turn navigation features worked well enough to use in areas I'm familiar with, but, keep in mind it's not solely a "navigation" app. Since I don’t use Waze solely for navigation purposes, this really didn’t bother me, but I can see how it could have the potential to really frustrate others.
Conversely, given that Waze is constantly receiving/feeding data/information, I expect these types of “growing pains.” At this stage of Waze’ development, user patience and participation are crucial.
I’ve been using Waze for almost a week now and, I must say: I’m addicted and very impressed. Not just with the application, but at the work its developers invested in making such a program “come to life.” Waze’ strength and success relies on it’s user numbers. Ironically, those numbers could ultimately cripple its effectiveness: If the application isn’t well-received or widely used, it’s user numbers will inhibit it’s growth and potential. And it has A LOT of potential.
Waze is an extraordinarily-relevant application and, until we invent flying cars, will remain so. Given that it’s a “flagship” application in its infancy stages, it’s really not fair to base this review only on its effectiveness, but rather its progress and potential.
Waze can truly revolutionize/change the way we travel/commute, by allowing us to “see” road/travel conditions prior to beginning our journey. It’s a “budding” concept whose future/success will be determined by its relevancy (as stated above) and longevity, i.e. user participation, etc.
That Waze made it this far, under the hard work of its creators/developers, staffers and users, serves as testimony that it's here to stay and will only improve with time. I HIGHLY recommend you download this app: It's free, it's fun and it possesses those characteristics prized by all items worthy of "Everyday Use."
Waze, your potential, progress and pragmatism are “impressive…most impressive…”…”But you are not a Jedi…YET…”