Google and Windows Phone, part 2: Waze

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Tech enthusiasts may dimly remember that, back in June, Google bought Waze, a crowd-sourced mapping and navigation system for Android? Well, backing up my suspicions that Google is turning attention to Windows Phone again, Waze appeared overnight for Microsoft's mobile OS, see below for a first look. Whatever next? A native YouTube, Google+ or Gmail client? Better not hold our breath, but....

From the Store description:

Waze is a fun, community based mapping, traffic & navigation app, 60 million strong. Join forces with other drivers nearby to outsmart traffic, save time & gas money, and improve everyone's daily commute.

By simply driving around with Waze open, you're already contributing tons of real-time traffic & road info to your local driving community. You can also actively report accidents, hazards, police and other events you see on the road, and get road alerts on your route too. Find the cheapest gas station along your route with community-shared fuel prices. Waze also makes it fun and simple to meet up and coordinate with friends on the road.

It's all about contributing to and benefiting from the 'common good' on the road, so hop on board and get involved in your local driving community today!

  • Live routing based on community generated, real-time traffic and road info
  • Community contributed road alerts including accidents, hazards, police traps, road closures and more
  • Automatic re-routing as conditions on the road change
  • Learns your frequent destinations, commuting hours and preferred routes 
  • Finds the cheapest gas station along your route
  • Notify someone you're on your way by sending a live ETA and a link showing you as you drive
  • Earn points and move up the ranks in your community as you contribute road info
  • Live maps, constantly edited and updated by Waze community map editors

Here's a walkthrough:

Screenshot, Waze on Windows PhoneScreenshot, Waze on Windows Phone

The automated real time traffic intelligence gathering is surprisingly effective. By driving with Waze open, millions of people across the world are contributing to a real time traffic awareness system - here showing some snarl ups in my home city of Reading; (right) the navigation system built into the Windows Phone client then uses this to route around traffic queues, as shown here, taking a back road route....

Screenshot, Waze on Windows PhoneScreenshot, Waze on Windows Phone

At any point drivers can tap on the report icon and pick a category. Note the timer, bottom left on the report - this is so that you don't have to fill in the fields if you're driving. After ten seconds, the report gets filed anyway, with no further screen interaction required.

Screenshot, Waze on Windows PhoneScreenshot, Waze on Windows Phone

There are various textual browsers too, looking here at general reports (left) and fuel stops (right), along with latest reported fuel prices (though '47 days ago' isn't very helpful!!)

Screenshot, Waze on Windows PhoneScreenshot, Waze on Windows Phone

Location reporting to a specific contact is part of Waze too - in fact, they get a live map and not just a single static location. Perfect for letting your partner know how you're getting on, perhaps... (right) there are extensive settings dialogs, with a massive amound to customise.

Screenshot, Waze on Windows PhoneScreenshot, Waze on Windows Phone

There's an amusing animated (and narrated) video intro showing roughly how Waze works.

A terrific debut for Waze on the Windows Phone platform. As usual with these navigation apps, using screen and cellular data and GPS all at the same time, do make sure you power your phone while in your car and driving!

It's worth noting that you can switch away from Waze and it'll carry on being active and reporting your position (for example, while switching music tracks or podcasts or taking a call). To explicitly close Waze, you need to use the 'back' control while the app is on-screen - there's a prompt to help you choose what to do.

You can download Waze for Windows Phone free here. Whatever next from Google? Place your bets...(!)

Source / Credit: Windows Phone Store