Faithful readers of this site are familiar with my affection for Waze. This is the third article I have written on the application. You can read the other two here and here. I am still a huge fan and the recent new release makes me an even bigger one. The features of Waze coupled with a high resolution large screen smartphone like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or Apple iPhone 6 makes this the best GPS available. I’m including the latest GPS models from the large manufacturers in this statement. The inclusion of live traffic updates and road hazards is something that can’t found in many GPS models. And best of all, it’s all free.
Waze recently rolled out release 3.9.4 which included some great features that I always wanted in a GPS.
The best feature is what Waze is calling the Traffic Bar. I live in New Jersey. We have a lot of traffic. Ever sit in a traffic jam wondering how much longer you have to go? Worse yet, have you ever taken the next exit only to look ahead and see the traffic clearing up a few hundred feet up the road as you are leaving the highway? The traffic bar is what you need to avoid this. The traffic bar will let you know how far you made it through the traffic jam and (best of all) how much longer you have to go. This can help you to gauge whether or not you need to take some evasive action because if you’re like me, you hate sitting in a traffic jam. Be aware that your phone must be portrait mode to see the traffic bar.
Another important feature of this release is speed. I have read that the improvement is up to 85% versus the older release. I have noticed what I perceive what I believe to be some improvements especially in the area of identifying the place where you want to navigate to. A recent search for Five Guys Burgers, the best hamburger place around here in my opinion, took less than a second to identify several locations nearby. It normally took a few seconds before. Faster is always good.
Another improvement is in the area of notifications. You can let your friends know when you plan to arrive at a destination so they can follow your drive. Waze now supports an acknowledgement of your notification. This is a nice feature as it now clears up why my wife gives me slack for not calling ahead as I can now state that she didn’t acknowledge my notification. I suspect this won’t help me in the long run it’s a nice feature.
The next improvement is in the area of improved u-turns. This is the one feature that I’m having a little difficulty with. Since upgrading Waze, it tells me to make a u-turn whenever I start a new route. The problem is that my car is sitting in my driveway at the time. Not sure the Waze developers thought this one out all the way and would expect some changes in future releases.
Lastly, Waze now tells you the main route it is taking whenever it goes into navigation mode. For example, my recent 60 mile trip down to central New Jersey was via I-95 (the New Jersey Turnpike). Waze let me know that it is taking me to the destination via I-95. It takes some of the mystery out of the route I’ll be taking. Waze is very sensitive to current traffic so you never know which way it will take you. It might have me on the Parkway one day, then the Turnpike the next. All based upon live traffic.
I continue to enjoy this application and it’s become an application I use a few times daily.
If you would like to read a good article on phone mounts which will make using Waze more fun, you may view it here.