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Waze vs Google Maps: which navigation app is better?

Updated on Sun, 10/04/2020 - 15:43

If you need to get your bearings on a new location, or you need to use a navigation app in order to obtain accurate and reliable data, Google Maps and Waze are in high demand among mobile apps with such features. 

Before using these mobile navigation apps, let's take a closer look at their advantages and disadvantages. Then you'll be able to choose the app which can meet your demands best.

We can't but note that Google owns both apps – Waze was purchased in 2013. However, these navigation apps are not alike: they work independently from each other and offer different functionality; moreover, they put to use crucially different kinds of maps.

Contents:

    Mobile traffic usage

    Waze consumes more traffic by updating information on travel conditions all the time: any accidents, traffic jams, traffic monitoring. For example, if one user notes that an accident occurred on a specific part of a map, Waze will need Internet traffic in order for this data to appear on your device. The same applies to any other data that the app users can add.

    Google Maps don't support travel conditions real-time updates (even though the app can display data on traffic jams). Thus its traffic consumption is low. Moreover, Google Maps can also save maps for further use with no Internet connection. Therefore, if you plan to move within the same city or region, we recommend downloading its map in advance in order to save your mobile traffic.

    Map updates and crowd-sourcing

    Google Maps are updated continuously to reflect changes in the world: any new roads, public places, attractions, etc. The company makes all updates itself, although each user can report a new location via the app interface. The only drawback of such updating method is that in small cities, maps are updated quite rarely, every few months or even years.

    Waze navigation app is initially focused on close interaction with its users – they not only report on what is happening on the roads but can also edit maps by adding house numbers, public places and so on. With only very trustworthy users being able to change the app maps, accidental or incorrect edits are very unlikely.

    Which navigation app is best for drivers and pedestrians

    According to Play Store reviews, Waze is more suited for drivers.  

    • The app makes it possible to communicate with other road users; 
    • You can learn about any accidents in advance and find workarounds; 
    • Waze helps you save time, avoid traffic jams together with areas under construction;
    • It warns you on speed cameras and police posts.

    Google Maps combines a set of tools useful for both drivers and pedestrians. The app is perfect for planning a hiking or cycling route. 

    Its distinctive features:

    • The presence of public transport routes and schedules updates, showing the nearest metro stations. 
    • You can choose your preferred transport.
    • Cyclists can map the most convenient route.
    • The app shows traffic jams, pedestrian streets and bike parking lots.

    The interface and working speed

    Waze interface is simple: simple maps, large icons and only 2-3 colours to mark routes and roads. The app has few additional features, so the settings aren't overloaded with information useless for drivers. In general, Waze shows good performance.

    Google Maps app was originally created for different categories of travellers, so it has a lot of settings and various options for displaying a map. 

    When you have already created a route, the interface switches to the Navigation Mode: hints are displayed at the top of the screen (the nearest turn, recommended lane, etc.), and the map adjusts to the direction of your movement.

    Google Maps interface isn't overloaded with unnecessary information, but you may face some difficulties during route planning.

    The data displayed on a map

    As I have mentioned earlier, Waze gathers all possible data on travel conditions with the help of its users. Apart from that, the app isn't comprehensive: not all house numbers are displayed, some information on a particular building or the establishments located in it may be missing.

    Google Maps displays its data on maps by default (including the app offline version), but you can enable traffic display by clicking the icon intended for this purpose. House numbers, public places, and information on restaurants and cafes are all available in Google Maps.

    User ratings

    At the time of writing this article, in the Google App Store Waze had an average rating of 4.4, which was based on almost 8 million ratings. 

    Its main disadvantages: 

    • the app is poorly adapted for Russian roads
    • and it lacks a full-featured offline mode.

    Google Maps had an average rating of 4.0, which was made up of more than 12 million ratings. 

    Its main disadvantages:  

    • the information on speed limits and other travel conditions is slowly updated
    • and the app data on public transport routes quickly becomes outdated.

    Waze or Google Maps? 

    To sum it all up, we can say that Waze is better suited for drivers with private cars, while Google Maps are better adapted for walking and cycling.