Google Maps vs Google Owned WAZE, Which One is For You?

by on September 26, 2015

in consumer reviews

Google Maps vs Waze

Have you ever wondered whether you should use Google Maps or Waze? Between the two apps, both owned by Google, it is six of one, half dozen of the other. You can’t go wrong with either app. There are a few minor differences, and if you’re an Android user, you already have Maps on your smartphone. You have to go out to the App Store to get Waze. But there are a few subtle differences between the two, one that comes to mind is that Waze is more customization options than Maps.

Read on to see what I have to say after using both for a period of time.

For the last few years I’ve been a heavy user and supporter of using Google Maps (called “Maps” on my Android) whenever I go anywhere. And I mean anywhere, even if it’s to work or any other place I go to regularly. Why? Because even if you know where you’re going, the app will warn and redirect you if there are any major slow-downs in your usual path and show you better routes. Even after you’ve left your starting point and you are more than half way to where you’re going, if something develops, it changes your route for you.

My experience with the Google Maps app has been an excellent one. The first time it tried to get me around a traffic problem, I was coming home from Sonoma to the Peninsula. It kept telling to take the Bay bridge to the East Bay, then go south, and back across the Bay to my destination. But I was like, “don’t be stupid! Why would I add 20 some miles to my commute you stupid phone?!” At every off-ramp, it kept trying to turn me around to back to the optimal route to the Bay bridge. Peshaw! Then I passed the last off-ramp I could have taken, crested a hill and came to a grinding halt, staring at the Golden Gate Bridge for almost two hours before even crossing it. Sigh. Fine… lesson learned. When Maps speaks, you follow.

I’ve got quite a few stories where Maps got me around bad traffic snarls. Even so much as to get me off the freeway to take a parallel surface street or road for only a mile to go around something horrendous that just developed in front of me.

I have nothing bad to say about Maps.

As I used Maps, I noticed that the accidents and traffic issues on the map were being reported via Waze. I have resisted jumping over to Waze because Maps worked very well for me. But so many folks I know use it. So a few months ago I gave it a try, but I did not like it at that time. Upon reflection, I was trying to use it much like I use Maps, and that is not how it works. I’ll explain that later. So back then I deleted it.

Then I recently gave it another try and so far, though I still have some trepidation, it is serving me well enough.

Let’s take a look at some comparisons between Maps and Waze.

The Map Itself: I’m used to the Maps look and feel, but the Waze map seems a bit easier to look at and a bit more intuitive when it gets into the 3D angled look, versus when Maps goes into tilt mode. Of course, once you figure it out, it’s pretty easy to sort out. Plus you can modify how the Waze map looks and what it reports. Score goes to Waze.

Street Name Fonts: In Maps, if you think the street names are small, your instinct is to zoom in on the map, but when you do, the tiny font stays tiny. Zooming in on Waze, the street names GET BIGGER. Score goes to Waze. (2-0) (Heck I’m tempted to give it an extra point for this big plus.)

That Navigator Voice: Google Maps has one voice. Waze has a ton of different voices to choose from, even “Arnold,” from Terminator Genisys! In Waze the voice will say there’s a traffic hazard or accident or debris ahead. Arnold screams “Get down!” LOL. I prefer the British woman’s voice and accent. Score to Waze (3-0)

Where you Are Marked on the Map: Waze is a driving only app. If you are on a road, that’s great for both apps. but if you find yourself next to or off a road, Waze gets pretty confused while Maps is flawless. Maps is a great app for hiking to. Score goes to Maps. (3-1)

Tap To Go There: In Google Maps you can press on a spot in the map and then you can choose to navigate there from where you are. You can’t touch the Waze screen and “go there.” Score to Maps (3-2)

Presetting Destinations: You can go on your desktop and favorite or “star” an address on Google Maps, then open your phone app, find the star on that map, touch the screen there, then navigate there. You can’t do that on Waze. Waze does not show the “starred” addresses. Even though Google owns Waze, they have not translated some functionality between the apps. Score to Maps. (3-3)

Preset Destinations, like Presetting Destinations: In Waze you can’t touch the screen to go to places, but you can predesignate your home, work and other frequent of favorite locations. Plus it syncs up with your calendar and pulls addresses from it (When you insert Address). Score to Waze (4-3)

Reroute Driver while “Going There:” Maps has always been excellent at redirecting me around traffic incidents. Waze seems to be able to do the same, even after you’ve left your starting point. As far as I can tell, they are on par with each other in this department. (4-3)

Alert Other Drivers To Hazards: Maps has no function (that I know of) where you can mark the map that there’s debris in the road or a car on the shoulder of the road. Waze users can alert other Waze users to such things, including marking where cops are hiding next to the road. (5-3)

If you were keeping track, Waze has five good points about it versus Maps three points.

Waze has more functionality to customize while Maps gives you what Maps gives you. I’m a little leery to give support to the different features of Waze because some of them require that your passenger be updating or warning other Waze users. Otherwise the driver could be pretty busy adding warnings or acknowledging or updating other users warnings. Waze is not for the driver to use, and become distracted. This gives Maps a point if for anything else, it is not tempting a driver to play the Waze game, where you accrue points and become a Waze power user in their world. (Yes, you get points for adding info the map environment.) (5-4).

Auditory Alerts: When there’s a rout change, Waze is MUCH easier to user and accept route changes. Maps is a bit more quiet about it and if you don’t have the phone on your dash and in your face, you might miss it. The route changes are also easier to acknowledge. (6-4)

In Summary:

When you select a route suggested you can still change it or if you detour from it, either app adjusts and recalculates routes.

When you give either app a destination, they will give you options, showing you faster, shorter or preferred routes. You can tell Maps if you want to avoid tolls and ferries while you can preset similar preferences in Waze. Maps will show you public transit, biking or walking estimates, though I think they clocked my great-grandmother when they added their time estimations for walking.

The first time I tried Waze, I quit it because I was trying to use it like Maps. I pulled it up, pressed on a location to see how to get there and it just stared back at me. Maps would have given me the option on choosing a travel route.

Maps is great for the quick, on-the-go user, while Waze supports the well prepared user who might have addresses in their calendar events or who has preset destinations or does not mind typing out addresses. (If you’re in the car, pressing the map, or pre-favorited in Google Maps stars is a god-send for the safety minded user.) So then again, Maps will work for the well-prepared user also.

Bottom Line:

Yes, in the past I’ve noted any kind of traffic app that you need to interact with while driving is dangerous. But if you “set and forget,” or “set and listen to,” it’s different.

With that said..

Both apps work wonderfully for helping you get around traffic jams. Just in the last few weeks Waze had me (seemingly) take the wrong route or prematurely exit a freeway, and as I was getting off, I could see that just past the off-ramp, the sea of brake lights that extended for miles. It then took me across a neighborhood and got me back on track past what looked like a 20 or 30 minute delay. But as I’ve previously noted, Maps would have done the same thing.

It’s a preference thing and as you see, despite my “scoring” my experiences, there is barely a slight edge to Waze. Their map is easier to see and acknowledgements are easier to accept. But it will not like you if you are not on a road it does not know about. Maps seems to know “all” roads, trails, routes and whatever.

I’ve been using Waze of late. But if I find myself running out the door for whatever reason and need a super quick reference, Maps is my go-to option.

Waze users can pinpoint cops on your route. But cops have been mucking with Waze to mess that option up. It has rarely been correct for me.

Maps is much more intuitive and easy to pick up and use than Waze.

Wow… this was a helpful review, huh? LOL.

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