GPS-enabled navigation tools are fast becoming a staple application in our application-obsessed environment. But out of all the available navigation apps in the market, Waze and Google Maps stand out. Google owns both companies, but nothing ever stopped users from comparing them. Which one is better? It’s time to settle the Waze VS Google Maps debate once and for all.
A friendly reminder, using these programs will require you to sync your location. One way of adding veracity to your location is by accessing these services while having a fast internet connection. Curious to know what is a good internet speed to download and upload data? We have an article to help you with that question.
What is Waze?
Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation application. It provides mapping information and real-time traffic information to users. Using GPS technology, the app can track your current location and allows you to set a route so that it can guide you through it. It provides you with information on traffic congestion, traffic incidents, and police presence. It even calculates your ETA based on real-time traffic information. The app is mainly intended for driving purposes, but it also has communication and data-sending functions. It allows you to message your friends, search for good places to hang out or send your real-time ETA to your boss while on the way.
Waze uses information crowdsourcing technology to provide real-time traffic information to users. This means that it collects data each time you use the app and compiles and processes this data. All users can report tailback or traffic information to Waze. Waze uses this information to improve the existing maps and create alerts on traffic congestion. This is why you get tiny notifications for traffic congestion and road incidents show up on your phone.
System Requirements: At least 2.2. Android device or at least 5.1 iOS (GPS enabled)
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What is Google Maps?
Google Maps is an outdoor navigation system. It helps drivers, motorists, and passengers get to their destination using GPS data and detailed maps. It uses geospatial data collected through the Google Base Map Partner Program. Google Maps provides real-time traffic updates, highlights, road maps, street signs, and markers for establishments and tourist destinations. With the application, finding a location and potential routes takes a matter of seconds.
Google Maps is the first navigation app to provide a realistic view of the maps in the form of satellite images and photos taken on the ground. Zooming in to Google Maps will allow you to see what your actual street or area looks like from above. If you key in a specific building it can generate photos of the building exterior so you know what to look for when you’re there.
Other great features of the app include voice prompt for hands-free navigation, customizable maps, and on-screen notifications for nearby hotels, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. It also has special tabs that allow you to play your favorite music while navigating the streets. There are also different modes of use for commuters.
System Requirements: At least 2.2. Android device or at least 5.1 iOS (GPS enabled)
Comparison of Driving Directions
When GPS-enabled, both apps can keep up with your real-time location. This means the buttons on your screen and the map that guides you will move around as you do. Waze guides you through your selected route.
Both apps have great voice-prompt functions for a hands-free guide, but in terms of being able to locate you and where you’re going, Waze seems to have the upper hand. Waze generally loads faster than Google Maps as it uses up more data. This means it can update your location and present you with re-route options more efficiently while you’re on the road.
Users have noted that Waze bugs down from time to time, and its GPS functions are not as sophisticated as Google Maps just yet. Depending on the strength of your internet connection, it can give you the wrong address or lead you to a street that doesn’t exist.
Google Maps can be used for almost any other purpose other than driving while Waze was made especially for driving purposes. Waze works best with a good internet connection, and this also makes it respond faster to traffic input. If Waze sees heavy traffic in the original route, it can quickly redirect you to a faster route. On the other hand, Google Maps has a drag and drop function that allows you to change your route but it doesn’t compute the best alternative route for you.
Waze relies on user information. It could thus have limited functions in less-populated areas with limited input from users. Google Maps doesn’t rely on user data and is thus able to function in remote areas.
Waze loads faster and can provide real-time traffic information. But it doesn’t quite match the amount of detail and reliability provided by Google Maps. Choosing the slower but more accurate and detailed alternative, we are siding with Google Maps on this one. That’s one point for Maps in the Waze VS Google Maps debate!
Comparison of Driving Interface
Waze offers a purely visual representation of the real thing, and some users have commented on its cartoonish design. Some users have also commented that the icons on Waze are too small and difficult to understand. Meanwhile, the Google Maps interface looks clean, simple and functional.
Waze uses animated symbols to show what is in the area (i.e. fork for food, gas cans for gas stations, etc.). Meanwhile, Google Maps uses real photos and satellite maps to show you what the place looks like. If you don’t like cartoonish icons, you might prefer Google Apps.
Waze users also note that it seems to have a constant stream of notifications. Notifications include pop-ups for traffic congestion, restaurants, and traffic lights. It also alerts you to the presence of police officers in the area, and you can beep other Wazers nearby. These alerts can easily fill up your screen which some users find distracting. However, the problem can be easily resolved by resetting the default notifications under settings. In contrast to Waze, Google Maps consistently displays street information while you move. Google Maps also does not use community-based information so nothing pops up on your screen.
Waze may provide real-time information, but it still pales in comparison to Google Maps. This is in terms of design and freedom from distracting notifications. The accuracy of the Google Maps navigation is impressive considering its sheer scope and detail. Google Maps allows you to switch modes between the digital map or the real satellite map. For this reason, Google Maps has a clear advantage. That makes the score 0-2 in the Waze VS Google Maps debate with Maps taking the first 2 categories.
Comparison of Searchability Functions
Accuracy of search results
The Waze search bar sometimes prioritizes search results that are very far away from the user. It also sometimes points to the wrong place. Google Maps has a higher probability of getting search inputs right. And it only requires a partial address and gets the right one most of the time.
Some users have noted occasional errors in search results for both apps. This happens when the map erroneously points you to the wrong place. Waze sometimes generates map errors along the preferred routes. It sometimes provides inaccurate speed and traffic data. It will also become unresponsive due to fluctuations in the internet connection. Google maps have also reportedly omitted roads, bridges, and buildings that ought to be there. It also reportedly ignores feedback from users who found errors on the maps.
Google Maps has a special commuter tab that shows you where the train lines, bus stops and public terminals are. You are also able to receive notifications about delays and disruptions on your chosen route. This is of course, on top of the real-time traffic information that you can see in green, yellow and red colors. On the other hand, Waze might not be useful for when you are commuting, riding a bike, running, etc since it doesn’t have alternative modes.
Google Maps also offers commercial information about restaurants, coffee shops and bars in the area. It even shows you the ranking of the establishments based on user reviews.
Waze is limited in this capacity, as it merely shows you community-based recommendations and marks the areas on your map. Google Maps generates more results for every search input on commercial establishments than Waze. It is also popular among employers who attach Google map pins of their location on official websites to make it easier for clients and employees.
Google Maps has a clear advantage in terms of ease of use, searchability, and the amount of information it provides. It’s looking like Maps is close to a sweep in the Waze VS Google Maps debate.
Comparison of Voice Prompts
Both Waze and Google Maps have verbal prompts so that the driver can listen to the instructions and not have to hold the phone while driving.
Waze allows you to record your voice for the verbal prompts and to even send it to your friends. Google Maps doesn’t have this function, but it does allow you to choose between voice prompt or on-screen notifications. You can also alter the volume of the robotic voice that does the prompting.
For having more customization functions for voice prompts, Waze has the advantage. Waze finally gets on the board and make the score 1-3 in the Waze VS Google Maps comparison.
Comparison of Data Consumption
Google Maps reportedly consumes less than half of the data requirements of Waze. It consumes 46 kb of data per minute of use, while Waze consumes 115 kb per minute of use. Waze continuously sends user data through GPS signals which consumes more data.
Waze will also drain your battery much faster than Google Maps. Waze exceeds Google Maps for battery usage by about 10.5%. Having Waze running in the background is even worse, as it exceeds Google Maps in draining your battery by 285%. It’s then advisable to keep your phone charging in your car while using Waze or even Google Maps. Also, make sure to close all GPs apps when not in use. Google Maps can also be used offline while Waze requires a constant stream of mobile data to function.
The Waze Map Solution was not intended for offline use, so you constantly need an internet connection to use it. The Google Maps GPS navigation also needs an internet connection to work, but you can download the standard maps offline.
Google Maps was more fitted to reduce data and battery consumption than Waze.
Comparison of Customization Options
Unique customization options for Google Maps
Google Maps allows you to search for both satellite and map views and use markers to plot locations. You can measure the distance between two points and get your ETA. You can create personalized maps through markers of significant places. You can even play your favorite music through Spotify, Apple Music or Google Play. You can also download almost any map offline for when you don’t have an internet connection. You can also customize your maps by marking significant places on it or trace your regular routes to be used as a reference for voice prompts.
Unique customization options for Waze
Waze allows you to report what you see on the road (speed traps, accidents, traffic jams, and other incidents). You can also search for and be notified of the nearest gas station with the lowest gas prices. You can create a different route for when your route is packed and record your voice for the voice prompts. You can choose between the fastest or shortest route. You can alter the notifications that pop-up on your screen, or turn off the app using an on/off toggle.
Google Maps offers more options for viewing your maps and customizing your voice commands. Meanwhile, Waze is better at providing real-time assistance and keeping up with your location. Overall, we can’t decide between the two as they both give you plenty of options to customize.
Advantages of Google Maps over Waze
Not yet convinced what side to pick in the Waze VS Google Maps debate? Well, here are the advantages of using Google Maps!
Accurate and detailed search results
It provides more accurate and detailed search results. Type in an address and chances are, Google Maps will get it right the first time. The software also marks the bus stops and train stations for commuters. Commercial information is also available for those looking for a good place to eat and have fun.
The satellite view generates 3D topographic data that can give you even minute details of an area and what is in it. Unlike almost all other apps, Google Maps shows you the real thing.
Maps are already hard to understand as they are and unnecessary icons just make things worse. Google Apps makes it simple by making the maps clear as day. It synthesizes traffic information into three colors: green for no traffic, yellow for light traffic, and red for heavy traffic. The simple, white design and functional interface make it easy to read the map.
Google Maps is practical and useful not just for driving. It’s also a great general reference. It can be used for any type of topographical research and all forms of travel. It is useful for all activities: driving, walking, running, or commuting. You can be in the city, in the country, or the middle of nowhere. If you want to know where anything is located, Google Maps is always useful.
Google maps have great customization functions. You can download and personalize maps for your events and hobbies. It also allows you to mark locations that are meaningful to you without the app asking you for a route. Just pin these maps to your website, to your Facebook, or your Google Calendar.
Advantages of Waze over Google Maps
Well, here are the advantages of Waze over Google Maps. This can help sway your opinion on the Waze VS Google Maps debate.
We admire how proactive and smart the app is. It always seems to be able to keep up with your location. It offers you suggestions on how you can avoid the traffic and allows you to see the optimal routes. You can also choose to change route recommendations to either the fastest route or the shortest distance.
Real-Time Traffic Updates
The app allows you to send and receive real-time information on what to expect on the road before you get there. It functions like a news-feed for traffic which is great for staying informed. Google Apps is also able to show you real-time traffic but its algorithm to suggest routes and alternate routes is less efficient than that of Waze.
Chat and Data Transfer
The app allows you to connect with peers and send information. You can chat with your friends or beep other Waze users you’d like to know. It is also possible to send travel information and existing routes to other people. You can let your friend know where you are and how much longer you’re going to take. This not only takes up your time in traffic, but it also eases the general anxiety of being late for an event.
If we take internet connection as a neutral factor, Waze is generally considered to load information faster than Google Maps. Naturally, this takes up more mobile data and battery power, but hey, this is a small price to pay.
Alternatives to Google Maps and Waze
And if these options aren’t enough, there are plenty of other free navigation apps in the market that cater to special interests like outdoor sports and inter-country travel that you can try:
As the default mapping system for all Apple products, the device interface looks a lot more like Google Maps than Waze. Apple Maps shows you real-time traffic information and traffic updates. It shows you color-coded marks for restaurants, hotels, and coffee shops. You can set travel notifications for your events. It also has a Flyover tool that allows you to see 3D versions of popular cities, and even take an aerial tour.
Open Street Maps
The OSM application offers plenty of detailed maps from all over the world. Like Waze, it relies on third-party information to create and update its maps. The geographic information is regularly maintained and updated by a group of online community members. Ownership of the information is also claimed by the community members and not the company. Reviews have also pointed out that the maps are accurate and reliable. Unfortunately, it lacks advanced features like GPS function and customizable options.
Best for outdoor activities, the app lets you download thousands of maps for offline use. These maps came from the OpenStreetMap data, the same one used by Google Maps. The app also has a GPS and voice prompts that can guide you through chosen routes.
Formerly known as Nokia HERE Maps, the HERE WeGo app has a great interface, detailed maps, and options to change modes for when you’re not driving. You can download maps of entire countries offline. You can also book taxis with a single tap, and calculate the best route with the availability of real-time traffic information.
Final Thoughts on Google Maps and Waze Comparisons
In the end, it’s not for us to say which app is better. We can only provide recommendations based on the best features of each. For fast, real-time information on the best routes to avoid rush-hour traffic, we can recommend Waze. But if you want a simpler but comprehensive interface for other purposes than driving, we can recommend Google Maps.
At the end of the day, it depends on what you need daily in terms of getting to and from places. Both apps are great resources for getting from one place to another, but neither of them is perfect. Nonetheless, we are happy and grateful for the convenience and comfort offered by Google Maps and WAZE, and we hope to see lighter, faster, and more customizable versions of them in the market. Still, the final say in the Waze VS Google Maps debate will depend on the user.