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 Map’s 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 still been around for a long time. 15 years in fact. Originally it was its own app, but it was actually bought by Google and still maintained. So really this is a question of which of Google’s apps do you prefer, and that is what we’re going to help you answer today.
While being lesser known that Google, Waze has a significant fan base that swear by it so there must a reason, right?
Waze vs Google Maps
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. 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.
As far as features goes, Google Maps is the clear winner. It’s not that it does anything 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. Personally I’ve
Either way, the main comparisons we can actually make are between the apps ability to navigate while driving.
Here we come to the biggest difference between the apps. How they acquire their data. Google Maps is a data based app. 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 as it 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
In this section I wanted to touch of the general usability of the app, it may not be the first thing people think of when it comes to navigation apps but it’s very important that as a user you can navigate the app to start navigating yourself… That’s an odd phrase… but you get my point, apps as a whole 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.
Let’s look at Waze first, when you open the 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 these apps in my opinion, 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, can’t see anything wrong here.
Next, we’ll look at Google Maps. Hard to imagine it will be a huge amount different, but we’ll go through it anyway so we’re all clear on any differences. So, same as with Waze you’ll have your usual phone pop up asking if the app can use your location and then you’re onto the home screen. Again, very similar, you have your own location and a search bar. Here’s the differences though, while not necessarily distracting there is a lot more visual noise on Google Apps. They have a swipe up on the bottom that you can see the top of which has a list of interesting places in the area and commonly searched terms such as pubs or recreation centres. The search itself is what you’d expect from any search with recent searches and an auto fill when the app thinks it knows where you want to go.
This is likely going to come down to personal preference but for me Waze wins out, 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.
A quick note here about the app itself while actually using the navigation. I decided not to have huge section here because they are both very similar and do a good job. 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 I’d have to say it’s difficult picking between the two apps. For myself I feel like I will probably use Google Maps as it’s more encompassing and I use the walking navigation just as much as the driving for when I inevitably get lost somewhere in London.
The best was I can see to properly define which app is for you is essentially going to be, do you want the best driving navigation app, or do you want an app which has more features but is maybe lacking in a few areas. 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.