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Why I Left Google Maps For Waze

Waze map in a car

When it comes to maps and navigation, you probably want something that gets you from point A to B as quickly as possible and avoids traffic, police, or accidents. And while there are many options available, I switched from Google Maps to Waze this year, and I’m not switching back.

I recently took a road trip from Las Vegas to Dallas, Texas, and after getting stuck in a 2-hour traffic jam and almost getting a speeding ticket, I downloaded Waze (Android/iOS). Now, I wish I did it sooner.

You’ve probably used Google Maps on Android or iOS, and even though Waze has been around forever, many still haven’t given it a try. Google actually purchased Waze back in 2013 but has largely kept the two separate, even if Google Maps is slowly getting some of Waze’s best features. Here’s everything you need to know about Waze and why I now choose it over Google Maps.

What is Waze?

Waze app on a phone
DANIEL CONSTANTE/Shutterstock.com

Waze is a map, navigation, and real-time traffic app, and it also works with Android Auto or CarPlay. Imagine Google Maps, but with real-time data from the exact road you’re driving on from others on the road simultaneously. It gathers data from its community of users and acts as your eyes and ears on the road. If the car 10 minutes ahead of you spots tire debris in the street, they’ll notify the app. Then, you’ll get a notification ahead of time as you approach the location.

Think of that but with everything you encounter while driving, like speed traps. That’s the power of Waze. The app offers basic turn-by-turn directions as expected, different voice options, EV charging locations, the choice to avoid tolls, and even a motorcycle mode, but the crowd-sourced data makes it stand above the competition.

Since Google bought Waze, things haven’t slowed down. In fact, the more you use Waze and interact with it, the more points you get. It’s like a little game. When you first download it, you’ll start as a “baby Wazer.” The more you report accidents, police, or issues on the road, the more points you get. Eventually, you’ll be a top Wazer, and the app will trust the reports you share.

And while that’s all fun and dandy, it’s the real-time navigation reports on hazards and road conditions you’ll love.

Hazards and Road Conditions


Waze is a community-based GPS navigation app that uses crowd-sourced information to tell you about real-time traffic, hazards, road closures, police speed traps, and much more. It’ll inform you about a cop on the side of the road well in advance, alert you to accidents, or reroute drivers to avoid delays.

With Google Maps, it’ll find the fastest route when you start, but after you hit the road, you are on you’re own. When it comes to Waze, it’ll constantly monitor road conditions and update every aspect of your trip on the fly.

And if you get stuck in a traffic jam or delay, it’ll tell you roughly how long you’ll be sitting there, too. You can even message other Wazers, like someone ahead of you in a traffic jam.

But what really helped me switch to Waze is all the times it saved me while traveling. The road trip to Dallas mentioned earlier is just one of several examples.

In another instance, Waze spotted a construction zone and rerouted me back into a small town about an hour outside of Las Vegas, around the traffic jam, and spit me back onto the freeway from a road I’ve never seen before. It was a weird detour, but I got home over an hour earlier than my brother, who was using Google Maps and got stuck in traffic.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see some countryside than taillights.

Is Waze Free?

Yes, Waze is 100% free to use, but occasionally, you will get a few ads. However, they’re not awful. Waze won’t throw ads in your face while driving, but if you stop at a red light, it’ll share helpful information about gas stations or fast food joints nearby. The ad is relatively large, taking up about 25% of the top of the screen, but it’ll disappear once you start driving again.

Honestly, I don’t even mind the ads. When I exit the freeway and come to my first stop, it’ll show gas station locations on the map, making my quick pit-stop easier than ever. So while it is ad-based, it’s still free, and those ads are more helpful than not.

Is Waze Better Than Google Maps?

Waze vs Google Maps icons

Absolutely. Well, yes and no. While Google Maps certainly has more features, tons of map data, different terrain levels, and endless information, it depends on what you need. Unlike Waze, Google Maps offers walking and biking directions, location reviews, and several helpful little features. Google Maps has slowly added some of Waze’s crowd-sourced data into its maps, and I’ll occasionally get alerts for speed traps and such. However, it’s inconsistent, rarely accurate, and out of date far too fast.

If we’re talking navigation and I have to choose between Google Maps or Waze, I’m going with Waze without a doubt. Waze offers more accurate information consistently and has up-to-the-minute active traffic conditions unlike anything else available.

Make the Switch

Waze is certainly different than other apps but in a good way. You’ll have to get used to the slight differences in distance and timing between directions or how Waze suggests which lane to use, but in the end, getting to my destination faster and without a speeding ticket or running over a hazard on the road makes it completely worth it.

Keep in mind that Waze relies on other users on the street, so if you’re somewhere very remote without many people, it probably won’t benefit you much. But when it does, it works great, and that’s invaluable.

If you haven’t tried Waze yet or tried it back in the early days, I recommend giving it a shot.

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Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »