Waze vs Google Maps – Which Navigation App Is Better?

Today we’re going to look at the biggest navigation app as well as an app which, while not being as much of a titan of the genre as Google Maps is it may have something to it that makes it the go to option. That app is Waze.

While not being quite as well known as Google maps, Waze has actually been around for a long time – 15 years in fact. Originally it was its own app, but it was actually bought by Google back in 2013. And whilst it’s not quite as well known as Google, there are still a few reasons why you may want to consider Waze.

Waze vs Google Maps – Which is better?

In short, when it comes to features and a full picture of the world, Google Maps is unbeatable. However, if you’re constantly driving in busy traffic and want periodic 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’s user-sourced information 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 obviously 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. With Waze you are looking at a dedicated driving navigation app. That’s what it’s built for and that’s what it does, however both TomTom and Google Maps also offer similar features.

While Google Maps may have additional features to be used such as routes based of walking, cycling and driving, if all your navigation is doing for driving then Waze will rule out that extra step keeping things a bit simpler.

And if usage is something to go by, many users prefer Google Maps

Features

As far as features goes, Google Maps is the clear winner. It’s not that it does anything drastically better, it’s just that it’s offering more than Waze does. If you live in a city or a large town and often walk to get around then Google Maps will help you in all situations.

This is of course just talking about the amount of features on the app. If we talk specifically about driving the Waze may very well edge ahead. As it can focus specifically on driving it removes a layer of complexity that many will find a bonus.

There is of course always the option of having both. If you prefer the driving side of Waze but still need navigation every so often when you get your bike out, then that is a very realistic alternative you can take.

There is also something to be said about all the additional info that Google Maps brings. Selecting destinations will let you know information such as phone numbers, open hours and even menus. This for a lot is a big bonus.

Both apps now show speed limits, public transportation and an offline mode. Either way, the main comparisons we can actually make are between the apps ability to navigate while driving.

Winner: Google Maps

Data

Here we come to the biggest difference between the apps – 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, this however has its flaws, 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, 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 on the fly and making sure you get to your destination as soon as possible.

So, any downsides to this? Well, 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…

This is very hard to give a clear preference on, although with its larger user base I tend to believe that Waze does better here.

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.

Winner: Waze

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 to start navigating yourself.

Apps need to be in state which makes things as easy as possible for the user. The main criteria we’re looking at here is going to be how clear the app is in its displays, and how easy it is to set up a route you want to take.

When you open the Waze app ,you get the usual “can we use your location” pop ups you’re going to expect from apps that need to know your location to do anything. Simple enough, allow and move on.

What you’re looking at next is your location on the map with a search bar beneath with the phrase “Where to?”. This is exactly what you want from Waze, as it makes things incredibly simple and easy to do once you get in the car. Simply enter the destination, wait for it to calculate and off we go.

On the search bar itself it does have a few options for gas stations and restaurants if that’s what you’re looking for but unsure where to go yourself. Big plus.

In comparison, the features on Google Maps are better when it comes to features. You don’t get the level of customization you get when you’re using Waze, which has the option for different languages and even celebrity voices – it’s a little more fun that standard Google Maps.

This is likely going to come down to personal preference but for me Waze wins. I’m always a fan of a more simplistic design with additional options being hidden until needed.

If you use these features frequently however, I can understand that having them readily available may be a plus to you but yet again, this is up to the user’s preference.

The main difference which Waze has is that even if there are no traffic issues it will still pop up with where road works for example are. A sort of “potential issue area” notification when you’re driving around.

This is helpful just in case you plan to make a similar journey in the area at a busier time of day and therefore will know that this could cause some traffic and there may be 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!)

Conclusion

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 – I use the walking navigation just as much as the driving for when I inevitably 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, I would stick with Google Maps as it will do the job and you’ll be fine.

In fact, the main benefit I see with Google Maps over Waze is primarily in what appears to be there infrastructure, 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, for me it is the better app. It has a few added benefits like signalling potentially problem areas on the map and having a real time updater for its data as it’s based of other users.

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Alex

By day he's an engineer and by night (well, evening or very early morning but night sounds way cooler) Alex runs the Apps UK ship. He has a keen interest in language, fitness & especially social media - he is always on the lookout for the next hot platform.

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