In North America, the holiday season is upon us and much of the stress equated with it is related to travel. Many people will head to the airports en masse to fly to relatives’ homes for their annual visit, but even more people will take to the roads for local travel to visit family and friends. One way to reduce stress while traveling by car is using one of my favorite apps, Waze.
We use apps every day and we expect them to deliver accurate information without fail. Navigation apps are no exception. I come from the land of urban sprawl and notoriously bad traffic—Los Angeles, California—and after having been failed by other traditional navigation apps, I tried Waze after a recommendation from a friend. One of the major draws is that Waze Mobile is a social application and is community-driven. Waze’s general travel times and routing are still sourced from GPS data automatically sent on your smartphone, but they’re combined with notifications submitted by users in real-time about accidents, police traps on highways, and where the least expensive gas station is on your route. I have personally found that Waze Mobile consistently delivers the fastest routes, more accurate turn-by-turn navigation, traffic notifications, travel times and road conditions. In 2011, the app allowed the display of local events like festivals and points of interest, which enrich the community-driven experience. It’s no surprise that Waze won Best Overall Mobile App from the Mobile World Congress in 2013 and that the Israeli startup was purchased by Google for nearly $1 billion last June.
Waze is currently offers complete maps in 13 countries (Israel, the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Belgium, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, South Africa, etc.) with plans to expand. This is exciting news for users worldwide who are looking for better-performing navigation apps, but this is also crucial to the success and performance of Waze. The service depends on information obtained from users and crowdsourcing is required for notifications of accidents, map errors, etc. Essentially, the more users who use the app and report more accurate information, the better and more useful the app will be. So for users in cities and regions where there are fewer Waze users, be sure to check the time that a user made a report – it could have been 30 or 40 minutes prior.
Perhaps try out Waze for yourself, and enjoy what I find to be highly accurate route details, not to mention the fun gamification activities like changing your avatar, earning points and collecting “cupcakes” on your routes. With Waze, you don’t need to dangerously, and mostly likely illegally, text to update your family where you are on the road if you’re all connected on the app. If you connect the app with Facebook and with friends and family who use the app, you can see where they are in relation to you on the road if you’re headed to the same destination. If you’re looking for a way to reduce your holiday travel stress, using the Waze app may help by showing you real-time road conditions and travel times for your trip. Good luck and safe travels!