Thousands of users find routes to their destinations using Waze and Google Maps. Both apps have been here for over 10 years and both are owned by Google. Comparing both will not make one bigger than the other, because the same company operates both, but for everyday users, it is important to know which app is better. In this article, we are going to see how do both apps stand against each other? The article is the ultimate comparison of Waze vs Google Maps.
Waze vs Google Maps
Before we begin, let’s read some details and history of both apps.
Waze: Waze Mobile developed Waze in 2006. The app quickly became favourite. In 2013 Google bought Waze for $966 million, and it paid $1.2 million to all Waze’s employees.
Google Maps: In 2004 a company called Where 2 Technologies by two brothers started working on Google Maps project. Google then acquired the company and launched Google Maps a year after. According to Business Insider, in 2013 Google Maps was determined to be the world’s most popular app with over 50% of global smartphone owners using it at least once.
Regarding the interface, both apps show lots of information. Both maps display suburbs, significant roads, shops and your home if added in the settings. While a good thing about Waze is it displays the shop’s logo on the map. Waze only uses its default map type, you can change between 2D and 3D in the settings.
Google Maps comes with three map types and map details. The start-up one is the default and the other two are satellite and terrain. By activating satellite type you can see an aerial view of the map, while the terrain is Google Maps in 2D. The details in Google Maps include transport traffic and cycling.
Regarding the colouring, Waze is much darker and visible because it uses dark colours, while Google Maps uses light colours to display roads, rivers, and streets. Waze’s map interface includes a sound option and the current location button. Google Maps has buttons including explore, transport, for you, and the compass option which changes the map’s direction towards the north.
From routing to voice both use a different algorithm. When we put an address Waze displays an overview of the address including the address, significant roads, travel time, distance, and arrival time. It also shows sound options, other routes, share ETA, route overview and the best time to leave buttons.
Google Maps, on the other hand, displays the address, street view, directions, share and save buttons. Tapping on the “Direction” button gives an overview of the journey, and another button “Start” comes on the screen to start the journey. The good thing about Waze is it begins the trip as soon as you put the address, but in Google Maps we have to tap on three different buttons to start the journey.
Waze supports about 75 voices which including English, Italiano, Magyar, Eesti etc. You have an opportunity to record your voice for navigation. Google Maps supports about 55 voices including English, Eesti, Filipino, Italiano, Hindi etc.
The basic voice algorithm in Waze is, it guides you when to turn and it again reminds with the name when the distance is 300 meters. The problem with Waze is it guides when the turn is so close which sometimes leads to missing the turn. Google Maps try to guide as early as possible. Sometimes if there are two streets very close to each other, and the driver has to turn on the second street it guides taking the second street even the driver has not crossed the closest street. Google Maps also suggests if heavy traffic, road closure or any crash is ahead and it changes the route if beneficial.
Traffic and reporting
Both apps use satellite technology to monitor the traffic, and both apps have different procedure to handle traffic and related problems. Waze is a community-based GPS navigation app and other than AI, it collects data from drivers and then calculates traffic. Meanwhile, Google Maps is a robust app, and it gathers data from most of the Google services including Google Maps, Android Auto, and all other Google services to which you have granted permission. Even though people think Waze is better in traffic detecting, Google Maps does a better job.
Regarding businesses information, Google Maps is the king. With Google Maps you can see information like business hours, phone numbers, website, reviews, pictures etc. All the data is provided by business owners and users around the world. Users share their experience as they visit a store. Google calls it contributions and whoever contributes gets points.
Regarding public transport, Google Maps is the king. The app comes with a wide range of travel options including drive, cycle, walk, run, taxi and even flight in some areas. Waze does not support transit options, but you change the vehicle type to private, taxi and cycle to get better routes.
Both apps have different characteristics which make both apps beneficial. Safety features in Waze are speed camera warnings, current car speed and the allowed speed warnings, police warnings, crash and traffic warnings etc. Everything users report counts towards their contributions.
Security and safety is the primary concern when it comes to anything. Waze comes with a built-in warning system which warns you to not to use the app while driving. It detects and displays a warning if the vehicle is in motion. There a button “Passenger” to override this warning. Unfortunately, Google Maps does not come with any built-in security features.
On the road
I took both apps to test. From my location, the destination was 20 minutes far, and I tested both apps on the busiest time. Both apps did an excellent job although I was expecting more from both apps. On peak hours the unconditional traffic can trick both maps and the same happened in the tests. Have a look by yourself in the below comparison video of Waze vs Google Maps.
Another feature in Google Maps is Timeline review. Google collects your travelling data if you have granted permission and it shows you the places you have visited. It also highlights the routes you travel. You can see the kilometres you have travelled, the places you have visited with travel time on that day. You can also choose a specific day by tapping on the calendar button on the top. Waze does not come with any time review option, although some people think it’s good because they don’t want any company to track them.
Both allow users to contribute to improving the maps and it is part of this Waze vs Google Maps fight. The reason for contribution is different in both. Waze uses a scoreboard and level system while Google Maps uses points and levels system. In Waze, a user can earn good respect by reporting the information as he or she travels. As I have already mentioned that there are plenty of ways a user can report. While the user can also increase their reputation by editing the map on the Waze editor website. To check your points, level and rank you can go to the profile and then tap on the scoreboard button. You can see your level on the screen and all time points. In “My Achievements” menu you can see all of your achievements including milestones, reports etc.
Google Maps, on the other hand, asks for rating, reviewing, adding photos, and answer questions about places. Your information helps Google Maps provide accurate information. Like achievements in Waze, Google Maps uses “badges”. As you rate, review, answer and upload photos you earn badges. As you go you earn points and after certain points your level increases. Google used to reward Drive storage in exchange for contributions but these days they focus on planning major events around the world and a contributor can participate for free.
Which one is good where?
The answer to this question is tricky. I have been testing both apps for a long time now and the below list is from my experience.
- If you are a street lover and want to ignore the road, then Waze would be your choice.
- If you are going toward a new location then Waze is your buddy.
- For a known location, I would suggest Google Maps.
- For public transport, Google Maps is there.
- Thinking about shopping? You might like Google Maps as it tells you if the shop is closed or will be closed by the time you arrive.
Well, both Maps are well operated by a trusted company, and thousands of people are using both apps to explore the world. I hope the comparison of Waze and Google Maps helped you to figure out which app to use. What do you think about both apps? Which one do you use and why? Please share your experience with us.
Image information: Images used on this page are screenshots of the app. A screenshot is the copyright of the owner of the app. Some images are under Creative Commons and Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 1.0). Please send me a message if you have any questions about the images.