iPhone and iPad

Waze: A Social GPS For Your Daily Commute [iOS]

Joshua Lockhart 12-03-2013

social gps wazeOut of all the navigation apps that are currently on the market, Waze may very well have the best concept. The only catch is that it doesn’t have a “big name” backing it (like Google or Apple Maps iOS Maps Showdown: Apple Maps, Google Maps, And Nokia HERE Compared Within a week of release Google Maps for iOS shot to the top of the App Store charts as iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch owners rushed to get Google’s free mapping solution back on their... Read More ).


The app blends elements from both crowdsourcing and mapping to create something truly useful. Of course, it operates like any other navigation app – just pop in your desired location, follow the directions, and bam, you’re there. However, Waze possesses a few extra features that other similar apps simply don’t have yet.

How It Works

The app turns your phone into a messenger of sorts. As you drive, you become a reporter that sends information out to other drivers so they can know what traffic is like in your area. Waze does this in two ways. The first method is automated, collecting your speed data and combining it with other drivers in the area to come up with a general traffic report.

The second is voluntary, allowing you to publicly report police sightings, traffic quality, lane closures, traffic light cams, accidents, hazards, and general “chat” posts.

social gps waze

All of these reports are compiled into a list and then posted on the map itself using icons. In theory, the app is designed to develop a dynamic map that adapts to your travel habits. Rather than estimating ETA’s based on average speeds and distances, the app works in current potential obstacles. This allows for a much more realistic travel time estimation.


social gps app

Do you know how truckers use CB radios? It kind of works like that, but everything is much more visual and fluid.

How It Looks

Waze offers two color settings – day and night. As you can tell, most of the images in this post are from the nighttime setting, and besides capturing these images at night, my reasoning for including them was just because they look cooler. Everything is very easy to read, and the app’s design elements are very fluid, working in conjunction with each other. Menu bubbles “pop” up, and graphics fade in and out as you move about the area.

social gps app


Regarding the icon design package, everything – and this is the best way to describe it – is “cute”. I’m not even kidding. It’s like Waze started out as a children’s gaming app, and then the developers decided the map market would be more profitable. I’m not complaining, though. The app is much more personal this way, and elements on the map are actually much easier to distinguish because of it.

social gps app

How It Functions

During the time that I used Waze, I found it all to be very user-friendly. Reports were easy to scroll through, the map was easy to follow, and the app found my destination after I typed it in. At one point, the app did crash on me, and I’ve found that other people have had similar troubles. However, it was an isolated event, and the app worked for the remainder of the time that I was using it.

social gps


Seeing that this is a crowdsourcing app, it’s not functional unless other people are using it. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised to find that several people in my area use Waze. Granted, there weren’t too many, but even if there are just a few, that’s a good sign. With that said, you might find a few Wazers in your area.

A cool feature that comes along with this is the ability to create groups. Theoretically, you could form a group related to a common commuter’s route, allowing multiple drivers to help each other out every single day.

social gps waze

Generally speaking, I have to say that Waze works quite efficiently. Granted, its effectiveness comes with numbers. If more users have the app, there are more reports of current road conditions, and it works well. On the other hand, if only one or two people in an area have the app, it’s not very useful at all.



If you have an iPhone, get Waze – plain and simple. While Google Maps is great for planning your big trip to Kalamazoo, Waze is perfect for the commute to work. Google can’t help you with potholes, speed traps, or police cars in the bushes, can it?

Do you use Waze? Is it effective in your area? How has Waze helped you?

Related topics: Geotagging, GPS, Travel.

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  1. Jay
    January 4, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    This app is great! I use it all the time. But it can not find my house. It sends me 2 blocks away from where I live. Not a big deal but can this be fixed?

    • Christine
      February 2, 2017 at 9:36 am

      I had the same problem. My house was located 1/2 a kilometer down the road from its actual location. I live in Australia so I contacted Waze in Aus and told them the problem. They corrected it almost immediately. They told me that they take the addresses from Google Maps. Google maps still doesn't have the right address for us but Waze does.

  2. Sameer N
    March 20, 2013 at 2:21 am

    It's a good app, only problem is that unlike Google, can't locate the door number. It can only navigate to street.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      March 20, 2013 at 2:23 am

      Do you mean that it can't locate the actual address number? Works fine for me.

      • Sameer N
        March 20, 2013 at 2:48 am

        Yes. I'm in NZ and using Waze on Andorid. Not sure if it is for NZ address or for the few addresses that I searched.

  3. Mysterious Minor
    March 18, 2013 at 10:31 am

    This app is really great.But I dont think my Data Plan is enough for this.

    • Nick
      June 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      There is very little impact on data usage.

      You can also track the amount of data used right in the settings of the app if you get worried.

  4. Elena Sicconi
    March 15, 2013 at 2:01 am

    I LOVE this on Android. Especially the road goodies, they feel so satisfying..

  5. Alberto Lerma
    March 14, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    It looks fugly but it's very useful.

  6. imota
    March 14, 2013 at 5:39 am

    The author of this article gives an impression that Waze is exclusively used on
    iOS. However, it is an Android application as well. I installed it on my Android smartphone yesterday. It works remarkably well. I love Waze.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      March 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm

      Hey imota! This was just the iOS review. I'm sure it's great on Android.

      • Christine
        February 2, 2017 at 9:39 am

        Hi I live in Australia and the only gripe I have with Waze is that I don't appear to have an alternative route option on my Waze. I am using an Android and I find it gets me to my destinations without taking me on roundabout routes as Navman does.

  7. null
    March 14, 2013 at 12:08 am

    Question: How much data does it use? I have been afraid to use it because I share 2 gigs with my wife.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      March 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

      Hey null,

      I saw your comment the other day, and I can say this: not too much. Looking at my general data usage, everything seems normal.

  8. Keith
    March 13, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Waze is the most used app on my iPhone. I recommend it to anyone who'll listen. It's fun, interactive, keeps me from getting speeding tickets (none since using Waze over a year ago), and I've made it a mandatory install on my wife and son's phones, too.

    • Sam Mohajerin
      January 26, 2015 at 7:56 pm

      Hi Keith,
      Can you please tell me how many mega bites does your iPhone use when you are using the Waze, say on a trip or on an extended drive?
      I have only a limited amount of download per month on my Verizon iPhone and want to be careful not to exceed it.
      Thank you


  9. Rachel B
    March 13, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    I have a galaxy1. Waze is terrible on my phone. When it does work it always tells me for example to turn right after I already passed the place where I should have turned right. I usually get even more lost when I use it.

    • Joshua Lockhart
      March 20, 2013 at 2:25 am

      If that's the case, it might be best to use it for more local commutes that you already know. Instead, just keep it on for road updates and such.

      Granted, I didn't run into any trouble like this.

  10. sean
    March 12, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    I live in the NYC area and I must say that I never drive without it on. I also have to point out that there are no shortage of waze users here as well. I especially enjoy the "speed trap" notice which has saved my butt on many occasions.

  11. luis galvez
    March 12, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Waze is an important tool for us. When are you going to publish speed limits in Guatemala?

  12. clebersonprt
    March 12, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I'm a Waze Area Manager here in Brazil (my "job" is to make sure the map is correct, I can edit everything in it).

    It's just so cool to use Waze. Since it's completely free, there's absolutely NO excuse not to try it. Waze is incredibly smart. It stores the average speed for every segment that you drive on (even if you're not routed to somewhere) and that's how it routes.
    It also identifies automatically where traffic jams are, and highlights roads based on the current speed (Yellow (medium traffic) >Orange (some traffic) >Red (a lot of traffic) >Black (bumper to bumper). )

    You also have the ability to report gas prices at gas stations, and you can see the prices at a gas station the moment you're searching for one to route to.

    Every update is bringing more funcionality to Waze. It's just growing every day.

  13. Billy Bob Jimbo Jr
    March 12, 2013 at 3:05 pm

    I've been using Waze for years on my iPhone and love it, especially when driving through ATL and get a cop ahead warning and can slow down in time to avoid a ticket.
    Love the app.

  14. Ran Kinory
    March 12, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I use Waze on Android, Very effective on the issue of traffic jams

    • Fik_of_Borg
      March 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      I also use it on Android (Tasker turns it on automatically for me) several times per day.
      I guess the author titled "[iOS]" because that's how he use it, but that gives the impression that waze is an iOS app. I believe there is a Blackberry version too.

      • Joshua Lockhart
        March 16, 2013 at 4:05 pm

        This is just the iOS review. Great app!