Google Maps is the most well known navigation app for Android, and it’s also in competition with Apple Maps to be the number one app on iPhone too.
Though Google Maps is popular, some users prefer to use Waze for their daily commute. It doesn’t have as many features as Google Maps, though it’s still often in the most downloaded travel apps.
We’re going to look at the key differences between the Google Maps app and Waze.
Is Waze better than Google Maps?
In short, when it comes to features and a full picture of the world, Google Maps is the best choice.
It allows you to download maps using the offline maps feature, and it works well with Google Assistant too.
However, if you’re constantly driving in busy traffic and want updates throughout the day, then Waze is likely to be the better choice of the two.
For people that make a living from driving, it’s hard to look past Waze as the better choice.
It relies on user-sourced information that gives you a real time idea of the traffic and hazards on road. The traffic data can make a big different when you need accurate directions.
In comparison, Google Maps has access to more precise and accurate data than Waze – but not in real time.
This can make a big impact when you need to find alternate routes based on traffic or accidents. And, we can break things down even more than this.
Let’s start by looking at the apps themselves and what they’re offering.
Background & Basics
While not being quite as well known as Google maps, Waze has actually been around for more than 15 years.
What makes this comparison interesting is that Waze was actually bought by Google back in 2013.
We’re not quite sure why they haven’t integrated Waze into Google Maps – though this may happen eventually, it doesn’t appear to be happening any time soon.
So they’re both owned by the same company and perform many of the same tasks, though different users will prefer one or the other for specific reasons.
With Waze you are looking at a dedicated driving navigation app.
That’s what it’s built for, however both TomTom and Google Maps also offer similar features.
Google Maps has routes for other methods of transport, like walking, cycling and riding on public transport. So if you’re using different transport types, it makes sense to use it.
However if all you need is navigation for driving, then Waze can come in useful. It keeps things a bit simpler than Google Maps, but it has real time traffic conditions due to the community based data it uses.
Though when it comes to in-built features, Google Maps has many more than Waze. And if usage is something to go by, many users prefer Google Maps
Google Maps is the clear winner when it comes to features. It’s not that it does anything drastically better, it’s just that it’s offering more than Waze does, which is designed to simple A to B journeys.
If you live in a city or a large town and often walk to get around then Google Maps will be the better choice. This is because of all the additional info that Google Maps has.
This includes businesses, landmarks, Google street view, gas stations and more.
Selecting destinations like restaurants in Google Maps will let you know vital information such as phone numbers, open hours and even menus. This isn’t available in Waze.
Both apps now show speed limits, speed cameras and public transportation.
Only Google Maps has an official offline mode, but Waze will still work when you have no location (you just won’t get real time updates).
There is of course always the option of having both. If you prefer the driving side of Waze but want to use Google Maps for public transport, there’s no harm in using both.
Winner: Google Maps
The biggest difference between the apps is how they acquire their data.
Google Maps is a data based app, and we can tell from Google Earth and Google Street View how much their satellites can see.
It relays data back to your device in order for you to find the best route and be aware of traffic.
However, there can be delays when it comes to accidents, meaning you might see a clear road on your app while being stuck in a traffic jam.
This is where Waze has the edge, as Waze collects data from users in real time.
It can see exactly which roads are having issues, where traffic is and where potential roadblocks and closures have occurred.
This enables the app to generally be much more up to date, calculating the fastest routes quickly and making sure you get to your destination as soon as possible.
It relies on user data, so the less people who use the app the less reliable it is.
Thankfully, a lot of people do in fact use it so the data is mostly great, but it does mean that there may be areas where there are less users and therefore potentially incorrect info.
Waze has a lot of users both in the US and in the UK, meaning that the local community information is pretty solid.
This is because they will have a faster response time to issues which is most often the problem you come across when using these apps, that being the delays and traffic issues that are not seen on the app.
User interface and usability
The general usability of the app may not be the first thing people think of when it comes to navigation apps.
However it’s very important that as a user you can navigate the app successfully to help you navigate to your location.
A good navigation app should make things as easy as possible for the user.
Waze has a more simplistic design with additional options being hidden until needed. But the minimal interface is what keeps Waze users on the platform.
Google Maps has a traditional user interface, with an informative map view and lots of historical data to re-use.
One key difference with Waze is that even if there are no traffic issues on your route, it will still pop up with road works locations in your area – this can be extremely helpful if you use the same routes regularly.
If you plan to make a similar journey in the area at a busier time of day, knowing the local roadworks can help you determine a better route. Very minor, but a nice addition.
In conclusion, they are both very similar and do a good job – but Waze is the winner here.
Winner: Waze (just!)
Common Questions about Waze and Google Maps
Does Waze work in UK?
Yes, Waze works well in the UK as there are many users of the app. This means that other nearby Waze users can collectively improve your experience by reporting traffic jams and accidents.
Is Waze more accurate than Google Maps?
Waze is more accurate than Google Maps when it comes to real time data, though it relies on a data connection to determine your GPS location and nearby traffic.
Is Waze owned by Google?
Yes, Google Maps and Waze are two Google owned apps with the same parent company, though their features are somewhat different.
In conclusion, it’s difficult picking between the two apps – they’re both reliable, though Google Maps stops working from time to time.
Most people will probably use Google Maps as it’s more encompassing, particularly if you live in a city.
If you want to use the walking navigation just as much as driving, it can be useful (for example, for when you get lost somewhere in London).
If you want the best driving navigation app, pick Waze. If you want an app which has more features but is maybe lacking in a few areas, then Google Maps is better.
This is the difference. Google Maps is the “good enough” option. If you don’t use navigation very often, stick with Google Maps as it will do the job just fine.
In fact, the main benefit with Google Maps over Waze is primarily in what appears to be their infrastructure, and the app is able to load the map and calculate routes faster.
Likely just a pure server performance issue but if you’re always in a hurry then this may sway your decision towards Google Maps.
However, if you need navigation for driving often then Waze is the way to go, it is the better app.
It has a few added benefits like signalling potentially problem areas on the map and having real time updates for its data as it’s based on reports from other users.