I was frustrated with Google Maps, so I tried this game-changing navigation app

Waze Navigation App
(Image credit: Future)

Ever since I unboxed my first smartphone, I’ve opted for the default maps app, whether that be Google Maps or Apple Maps. I never considered alternative options but rather thought, “Who could be better than these two global giants?” Then I started reading reports of major problems with the apps, missing locations, drivers being sent in the wrong direction, and a lack of bug fixes. This got me thinking that maybe it was time to try an alternative app. I had heard about Waze, knowing its rich history and Google ownership, but I had never tried it for myself. That all changed, for me, in 2022.

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My first experience with Waze was like breathing in fresh air after being trapped for too long in a stuffy room. I couldn’t believe how good it was. It features several innovative features that have made traveling so much easier and more predictable.

It all begins with the ‘Plan a Drive’ feature, which is completely different from how Google or Apple Maps work. After entering your destination, Waze gives you the option to set your arrival time. This is presented with a beautiful UI that displays different traffic levels for specific times of the day based on its traffic data.

All of this data is generated from other Waze users, which means the more Waze users there are on any given route, the more accurate and helpful the results will be. It is also possible to report traffic issues, such as accidents, using the app, all of which help build up a more reliable real-time picture. 

I love this feature because it helps me plan my journeys better, spending less time sitting in traffic. Once the ‘arrive by’ time is set, Waze then tells me how long it’ll take to get there. Brilliant. 

Waze 'plan a drive' feature

(Image credit: Future)

You would be forgiven for thinking that's the job done, but Waze is just getting going. With a drive planned, Waze will then send you a reminder when you need to leave, just in case you get caught up with something else. Everything about this app is designed to make your life easier and give you a more pleasurable driving experience. 

Multiple routes can be planned ahead of time rather than just having to do it on the fly. It's even possible to connect your calendar to the app, enabling Waze to create routes for you. This is not a normal maps app but rather a one-stop solution for getting where you need to go in the best possible time with the most enjoyable driving experience.

With a route planned, you’re now ready to hop in the car. The incredible user experience and game-changing features continue. Waze will let you know of upcoming speed bumps so you can manage your speed ahead of time. It’ll even inform you of sharp bends ahead, just in case you missed any road signs. There is one road that I drive on every so often, and the lack of a road bend sign was leaving me needing to brake too late. Waze deals with this; no problems anymore. 

Waze constantly replans your route for quick journey times

(Image credit: Future)

Waze does a great job of providing real-time, crowdsourced data so the fastest routes can be found. Some of this data is recorded by other Waze users using the app, with other data gathered when users report specific traffic issues on the road. 

When there is traffic or delays, Waze does a much better job of responding quicker than Google Maps. Google will often wait until traffic has reached a certain level before deciding it might be a problem, whereas Waze is constantly assessing the route and making changes accordingly. If you want to guarantee getting to your destination in the quickest possible time, then there’s no better option than Waze. 

One of the most common stops I’ll need to make along the way is to fill up my tank. Waze excels in this area, letting you search for fuel stations and telling you the price of the fuel next to each result. I love getting the cheapest fuel deal, so this is perfect for me. 

Waze will get you wherever you want to go quickly

(Image credit: Future)

There are some Google Maps features that I miss, such as offline maps and Street View but all things considered, I think Waze is far superior. All of this functionality comes with no price tag and is available on both iOS and Android devices. Getting started is quick and easy, with no requirement to create an account if you don’t want to.

One of Waze’s advertising slogans is “Waze knows real-time traffic alerts - avoid real-time headaches.” That sums it up perfectly.

Download Waze on iOS or on Android

Freelance writer

Paul is a digital expert. In the 20 years since he graduated with a first-class honours degree in Computer Science, Paul has been actively involved in a variety of different tech and creative industries that make him the go-to guy for reviews, opinion pieces, and featured articles. With a particular love of all things visual, including photography, videography, and 3D visualisation Paul is never far from a camera or other piece of tech that gets his creative juices going. You'll also find his writing in other places, including Creative Bloq, Digital Camera World, and 3D World Magazine.