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Google Buys Waze Social Traffic Service, Hopes to Outsmart Traffic Together

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Google announced this morning that it has acquired Waze, a GPS and social traffic application that updates routes and drive information in real-time thanks to a community of users. Through Google Play alone, it has anywhere from 10-50 million downloads, but is on iOS as well.

The app has voice navigation, shows community-contributed road alerts, learns from your frequently traveled routes, and can even find the cheapest gas station on your way. But it also takes on a social function, in that your friends can join Waze, and be seen as you all attend a concert or arrive for a dinner reservation. 

Google will use Waze to continue to beef up their Maps applications, which are already the best in the business. They point out specifically in today’s announcement that they are “excited” about the prospect of “enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features” already used by Waze. In the press release for the acquisition, they are hoping to “outsmart traffic together.”

The Waze team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. Reports suggest that the acquisition of Waze cost Google over $1 billion.

If you wanted to tryout Waze, you can find it on Google Play for free.

Here is the promo video for Waze:

YouTube Preview Image

Via:  Google Blog

  • Justin Kos

    Just get a motorcycle and ride in between traffic

  • Humberto

    best news ever! Waze was already good…now it’s on its way to being the best of the best with Google with them!

  • VicMatson

    I wonder how much data it uses, and if it saves data for another trip? But, goog, if your listening, please make a way to get a users login if they tried it years ago and now forgot.

    Btw, gas prices suck, they are days old a lot of the time.

  • nina

    i like ths app. but i absolutely don’t use it for navigation. it’s horrendous at that task. nothing beats google maps at mobile navigation. the layout and ease of waze is awesome, and it’s great for warning you of upcoming traffic, hazards and police. i wish google maps could integrate that, and hopefully they will. oh yeah, and don’t trust the average road speed thing. those are terrible and inaccurate as well.

    • Ryan

      I’d have to disagree. I tried using Google maps once and it was bad at notifying me of to stay in a particular lane or something. Waze on the other hand, actually did a better job with it. Of course, YMMV and will always be the case.

      Main point about Waze is that it’s mostly surrounding the community, sometimes info may not be very accurate, other times it will. It all depends.

      • nina

        your mileage may vary, for sure. but google maps for me has worked superbly for me ever since using it. it’s actually much better than my dedicated gps. the issue i have with waze, is that although it is the most updated map app out there, it has fallen short for me in regards to reliability. it force closes when i need it the most, and it’s not very intuitive in regards to finding certain locations. i want certainty when having something give me directions and final destination points. i gave up on using it’s nav part after it got me lost going through san diego. and san diego isn’t even that big of a city.

  • Blue Sun

    I’m hoping that my Google Now card will get more accurate for my commute home when features get integrated down the road. My Google Now card is constantly 15-20 off the mark when I take the recommended route.

  • David

    It’s a shame. Every time I fire up Google Maps for my commute, I get the notification that there won’t be real-time traffic updates mid route, and I shouldn’t bother trying to play with my phone while I’m driving. But Waze tells me all the time when traffic conditions have changed and will reroute me or present me options.

    And where I live, at least, I think Waze does a better job with directions in the first place. Every GMaps route is “proceed to the nearest main road, regardless of traffic”.

  • Ryan Chapman

    Please don’t ruin it Google, I use this app everyday

  • Vince Hice

    The only thing that I don’t like about waze is that you can’t turn the voice navigation off, you can only turn the volume down. When streaming music is playing you are still interrupted by silence gaps.

    • Steve Benson

      See below for how to silence voice navigation.

  • CantSignIn

    Google already has some of the traffic monitoring services, but they aren’t user-reported…they’re based on that little checkbox on sending anonymous GPS information and stats (assumption). It’ll be nice to have the manual reporting aspect when a road is out, etc. but i’ll bet they get rid of the police car, speed trap, traffic camera reporting capabilities to avoid legal battles…

  • Robert Macri

    This would be so much more innovative if Apple bought it. /s

  • Steve Benson

    I would almost guarantee the next update we see from Waze will kill Facebook integration and add G+.

    Next after that will be Google search integration.

  • David

    I use Google Nav so often. It’s simply the best at what it does. Does anyone else worry that this is still free only because it’s in beta and will eventually be subscription based?

  • master94

    I feel like Google bought Waze just so Apple and Facebook wouldn’t get it. Glad google did, they wont restrict it to one platform.

    • http://twitter.com/JohnnyACE562 GRAND MASTER SEN$Ei {{-_-}}™

      Wouldn’t fault them one bit if that were the case. {{-_-}}

  • Matt

    So Google can give my location to the government spying PRISM program in real time?

    • master94

      If you have nothing to hide I see no problem with it. Also didn’t google deny being involved in PRISM?

      • GizmoDuck

        There’s a Washington Post article saying that while these companies publicly deny it, execs have admitted to it anonymously. Google was one of them.

        I got noting to hide but it’s ststill feels wrong. I’m sure there are people who feel stronger about it.

        • Hoffman

          The US government has been spying on it’s citizens for decades. Does anyone remember J. Edgar Hoover and his files on anyone he thought suspicious? Anyway, even without the latest “scandal”, if you leave your house there are cameras everywhere that any government agency (especially the police) can see where you are going, or track the cellphone in your pocket. It is sweeps weeks for the media. This is very old news. Let’s get on with our lives already!

      • Chris

        This is a terrible mindset to have, it’s the excuse the Government uses to help people feel more opt to giving up their information. I absolutely guarantee you that if you look into a person deep enough, it’s not a matter of IF you find something, it’s WHEN.

      • sirmeili

        The problem isn’t if you have something to hide today, its if they gather information and someone down the line wants to use that information to target specific people. Look at how the Nazis were able to use the 1933 Census data (stored on punch cards) to isolate the Jewish community in 1939. Didn’t seem like a big deal in 1933, but in 1939, eyes were opened.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_and_the_Holocaust

    • sk3litor

      The gov’t could have you hooded and hogtied and in the back of a black suv in fifteen minutes even without Google;)

  • Michael Hammond

    I hope they keep the “game” aspect of it by ‘chomping’ bits of untravelled road …. that was always fun just to go driving and look for un-chomped road. :P Getting points for chomping, relaying messages or just chatting up other ‘wazers’ was always cool – especially letting others know of speed traps, slow traffic due to construction and many other things!

    I was wondering if there was a way to get the Google Voice Search to launch Waze instead of Maps, but I guess that answers THAT question….

    This will be spectacular!

    • sk3litor

      Sounds kinda dangerous

  • I hate the police

    Does it warn you about filthy pigs(cops) and illegal traffic speed and stop light cams?

    • Steve Benson

      Sadly, Google will probably have to kill this feature.

      • Steve Benson

        Haha, gotta love DL. Down voted for speaking the truth. This is my favorite feature, but you gotta realized Google will take heat for having this in Google Maps.

      • CARPDM

        that’s the only/best part of Waze vs using Gmaps, why would they kill the feature?

        • Steve Benson

          Ethical reasons.

          • Droidzilla

            And by that you mean political pressure. But I agree.

          • Steve Benson

            Yes. It sucks, but it’s likely to happen.

        • Steve Benson

          It would be amazing if Google could add this feature to the Labs setting in Google maps. That way they could sneak it in without it being front and center.

      • T4rd

        That would make me a saaaaaad panda.. =(

  • DJyoSNOW

    It told me the bridge was up and presto change O rout detour and I got to work on time!! Highly recommend this app….!!

  • flyinggerbil

    another great buy by google

  • Jeremy Sheehan

    Interesting that the development will stay in Israel. I’ve seen something similar with other software packages where development stays there. Whatever works, you know?

  • coolsilver

    I can see why they said at I/O that traffic alerts and automatic rerouting will happen.

  • Robert Willis

    While true that Waze sometimes has a hard time finding a location, its social aspects are the best. I can’t tell you the number of times its helped me around accidents. I’ve been using it since my OG days and even back then I wondered why Google couldn’t do what Waze did.

  • ddevito

    Google’s simply burying the (mapping) competition.

    • Pedro

      Or, more likely, they are buying the competition’s acquisition target.

  • tony

    I tried using Waze on a few different occasions. I was never impressed.

    • lgreg64

      same here the community here was not using it. hopefully with google it will grow.

    • ScoobySnack

      After having used GNav for so long previously, it took me a long time to get used to Waze. Rerouting is awesome (if you let yourself trust the app) and police alerts have saved me potential tickets on multiple occasions. Recent features such as sharing your route with other non-Wazer’s is amazing. Only thing I don’t like: Waze doesn’t integrate as well into Android, e.g. Google Now cards or Voice Search.

  • http://youtu.be/GvPlAyTG4ik?hd=1 1PhoneDoesnt.com

    Waze to go Google :)

  • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

    Always loved the idea of Waze but i couldn’t trust it because of bad gps directions. I constantly recheck Google Navigation so im always on the best route to my destination. If i can get waze’s social, crowd source, and learning with Google’s path fining algorithm then i’ll be in heaven.

    • Robert Macri

      Exactly… I use WAZE only if I know where I am going for the speed traps/social aspect but even then I still check google maps first for traffic information.

      Waze has the traffic info from crowdsource, but by the time you see it your already stuck in it.

    • ETPhoneHomeT

      Agree…if I have to use navigation to get somewhere I’m not familiar with, I stick with Google Navigation. Otherwise, I like using Waze for the look of their maps and the traffic updates, red light cameras, speed traps, etc that are posted in real time.

      • JasonIvers

        If Google Nav has the ability to route you around traffic, rather than just tell you it’s there, I haven’t found it. Google always routes me the same way no matter what (although I can tell it to avoid highways… big deal). Waze probably saves me half an hour a day on my commute.

        • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

          It does by letting you know how long each path will take. Just pick the one with the least amount of traffic.

    • scastro87

      I use Waze every time I drive, and it’s really been great at finding the quickest route and avoiding traffic. I only use Google Maps navigation when Waze doesn’t recognize the address I’m trying to go to.

    • moe6

      The directions are only as reliable, and the traffic info, as how many users there are in the area you use it in. I live in a capitol city of Malaysia and Waze is bloody perfect 9/10 times. I only use Google Maps for specific locations (like in a housing area etc) and even then, that’s becoming a thing of the past.

      • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

        That’s not what i meant. One time i was driving and the gps said to turn right onto a street then left on a parallel street to the one i was on for 1/2 a mile and then go back to the street i was already on. it was a straight up glitch/error.
        I NEED the option to pick from 3 routes like on Google Nav and being able
        to recalculate those on the fly to keep refining my path to the most efficient one is something i can’t give up.

        • moe6

          Even map glitches and routing is heavily dependent on users. Part of the reason Waze is worth so much is just from how much data they have and how much of it was made new rather than licensed.

          I used to have this issue when Waze was still new, it hasn’t happened in a long ass time to me, so I know what you mean.

          At any one time I use Waze, there’s usually 3 users within a 2km radius from me, to give you an idea. There’s usually users driving not far ahead and behind me on most roads too.

          • http://www.deathbycone.com Jared Kotoff

            I have never seen Google Nav glitch like that. But the last time i tried it was probably around a year ago. Maybe ill check it out or maybe we’ll all get our wish of Google Nav and Waze integration!

  • Waschlappen

    I used this a long time ago, but mostly I found that it drained my battery like crazy.

    • wheineman

      Well any GPS applications will drain your battery very quickly. You should probably plug your phone in while using this.

  • T4rd

    This is going to be… wait for it…

    Amazing.

  • Christopher Hsu

    I was just telling my friend the other day that Google should buy Waze. I was starting to utilize Waze more and more so over Google Nav because of the crowd sourced notifications such as police, stopped cars, constructions etc. Now my hopes and dreams have come true.