June 21, 2012
Waze Proves We Can All Work Together To Save Time And Money
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com
Just before this year´s WWDC, I wrote a special Applesauce piece wrapping up most of the rumors and expectations surrounding Apple´s big event. One of those rumors – which turned out true – was the introduction of Apple´s very own Maps app, removing their dependence on Google for maps data. In this piece, I mentioned the potential capabilities of such an app regarding traffic, much like a current iPhone app called “Waze.”
By allowing other smartphone users to work together, Waze aims to save people time, even if it is just in 5-minute blocks.
Waze works by gathering data about your trip, including your current route and speed. This information is then compiled and sent out to other Waze users, creating an actual real-time picture of current traffic conditions. Users can alert one another to speed traps, traffic accidents and other roadside hazards. If one route looks congested, you have the option of choosing another route, easy as that.
Yesterday, Waze announced an update to their popular smartphone app which should save their users both time and money by adding real-time gas prices to their navigation services.
If you´re like me, you don´t realize you´re low on gas until you´re in an unfamiliar neighborhood or well into your trip. With Waze 3.2, users can not only search for gas stations nearest them, but they can also see which stations are offering the best price. Users can also choose to stray from their route a tad to save a few cents or stick to the plan and save at a station along the way.
Waze gathers this real-time price data from OPIS, but if a user arrives to a different price, they can make the appropriate change right there in the app. The next person using Waze will see the most recent data.
Waze is also offering discounts at certain gas stations just for Waze users, (such as 10 cents off for every gallon) including BP and Exxon, Kum & Go, and Shell. These discounts will show up in the station´s information listing and can be redeemed via PLU codes.
Elsewhere in the app, Waze has added the ability to add different stops in your route, perfect for those moments when you find yourself with an extra 20 minutes and a hankering for a taco. Each stop in your trip is assigned their own ETA as well as your final ETA. And, because it´s Waze, this ETA is constantly monitored and updated with real-time traffic data, thanks to the 19 million member strong stable of Waze users.
Though the timing of the announcement can be hard to see as anything but reactionary, Waze has actually been preparing their app ahead of the rumors of Apple´s new Maps app instead of rushing to push a new update out as soon as they can.
It must be noted, however, that Apple´s new Maps app and integration with Siri will do most of what Waze 3.2 aims to do, searching for the closest gas station and adding different points along the way. To Apple´s advantage, the Maps app is a native app, pre-installed on the phone. To those users not familiar with the app store, this will be their first and possibly only mode of navigation. Oh yeah, and Siri integration.
But, to Waze´s credit, Apple isn´t asking their users to work together to not only beat traffic, but beat The Man, saving themselves a few bucks here and there when they can. Waze´s 19 million users make it a compelling app and strong community. While the iPhone may fulfill our desire to carry the best and the most beautiful devices, Waze speaks to our disdain of high gas prices and traffic. Despite Apple´s announcements, users who want to squeeze a little more functionality out of their navigation systems or prefer a choice over Apple´s stock app should be pleased with Waze.
Waze starts to save you money immediately, as it´s available for free in both the Apple App Store and Google´s Play Market.