So Google upgraded Waze to Version 4 a few days ago. The theme of the upgrade is a redesign of the interface so that it’s more streamlined. There are some other improvements too which we will discuss within this article. The functionality of Waze remains the same which is a social GPS experience. I have written about Waze many times before starting with my initial accolades which you can read here.
The first thing you will notice when cranking up Waze Version 4 is that the fonts are different and larger. The map is uncluttered. There isn’t a typing area at the top of the map. You will press the little Waze button at the lower left to start the typical address search. One new feature that I noticed, which I don’t remember seeing in Version 3, is integration of my appointments into the address selection for navigation. I had a 2PM appointment with the address embedded in my calendar and that was the first address that came up when I got the navigation input screen up. Saves a lot of typing. Nice feature.
Less taps are needed to start your drive. Everything is now keyed off of the Waze button on the lower left of the map found at application startup. Tapping the button brings up the navigation screen and without typing, you will see your frequent and favorite destinations as well as those found within the day’s appointments. Tapping the right button brings up your contacts to allow you to send your ETA or other communications regarding your trip.
The social aspect of Waze is now integrated into the lower right orange button. They took a tap or two out of the actions needed to report traffic or a road hazard. While I really like the fact that less taps are now needed to report a road incident, I still feel it’s something the driver shouldn’t be doing and in fact, in New Jersey, you will likely get a ticket for doing so. Try to leave these activities to passengers who have nothing else to do.
A real nice feature of Waze Version 4 is calendar integration. This allow alerts to come your way based upon traffic conditions prior to your appointment. By synchronizing your calendar and Waze, you will receive an alert when it’s time to leave with traffic fully accounted for. Ideally, this feature would work even better if they had some sort of padding feature to account for parking and the amount of time it takes to walk from your car to wherever you need to be.
A major improvement for Waze Version 4 is improvements in battery life. I learned the hard way that you need to remember to turn Waze off and not simply toggle out of the application when done using. Forgetting to do that would result in a drained smartphone pretty quickly. One of the first things I noticed upon using the new version was that the amount of time it takes to enter “power off” mode was greatly reduced. I also did an experiment to see the drain when not entering power off mode and it still drains albeit not anywhere near as rapidly prior to the upgrade.
One noteworthy change I noticed was that the way to stop navigation has moved to a very strange location. In older versions, stopping a navigation prior to arrival was easy as you simply tapped the Waze button and tapped the stop navigation button. Now, you need to initiate a brand new trip and then tap the stop navigation button. I found this out on my own as it isn’t documented anywhere. Strange place to put it and I suppose they will change that when enough people give them feedback.
All in all, this is a nice upgrade. The battery use improvement and calendar integration are great improvements. I’ll continue to use Waze and it remains one of my most often used applications.
If you would like to read a good article on smartphone car mounts which are useful with GPS applications such as Waze, you may view it here. If you aren’t a fan of Waze and instead like the traditional GPS units read our Guide to Buying a Garmin Nuvi.