In 2013, Google paid more than $1 billion dollars to acquire the map company Waze in a move that caused some consternation among the tech industry. Google had at that time -- and still has -- the Google Maps app for Android and Apple iOS. One of the major reasons for acquiring the company was to keep the app from competitors but the Waze app still varies substantially from Google Maps even four years later. AutoSlash Operations Officer Chris is an extensive user of Waze and extols the virtues of the app. We suspect he'll be in the top 500 users (with direct access to the Waze development team) in the very near future! What does the rest of us like about Waze that sets it apart from other apps? There are three major features.

Notification of Upcoming Conditions

Chris is part of the engaged Waze community that reports incidents and accidents on the roadway for other users. And while there are separate apps that incorporate traffic conditions, or speed traps, or red light cameras, or nearby gas stations with pricing, Waze allows customers to report all of those features and includes them in maps for other drivers.  No switching between apps -- mount the phone to the dashboard and all of the information is readily available. One downfall of all of this data made available by Waze? The app's not designed to be used offline, so the utility drops off dramatically when in areas with poor cell service.  

These are the types of alerts one can set and receive while driving.

Personalized Voice for Directions

When Waze announced the ability for drivers to record their own voices for navigational cues, I made the comment to the rest of the AutoSlash team that I was going to "Red Forman" (portrayed by Kurtwood Smith on That 70's Show) my own directions:

Red Forman on the concept of bad luck

It took four months but I finally followed through. And theoretically, I could share my customized directional cues with others but don't want to be responsible for others not following very precise instructions. Setting the directions involved coming up with 38 different self-deprecating insults ("Your ETA is NEVER if you won't hit the gas"), colloquialisms (growing up on a farm, there's an instruction to turn "in a piece"), turn alerts measured in furlongs, and me belting out lines of various classic rock hits. One can put quite a few words in a 3-6 second recording! 

My directional cues didn't mirror the sample prompts ...

Waze Carpool (California only at this time)

Need a ride to or from work? Cabs or Lyft/Uber too expensive, live in an area devoid of mass-transit, and rental cars don't meet your needs? Through the Waze Carpool app, one can register to either give rides or request a ride in a pilot that's only available in California thus far. Drivers in the Waze app can only give two rides per day, as the purpose is to be a carpool, not a less regulated way to provide ridesharing like Uber or Lyft. And for drivers making the identical commute anyway, there's the ability to accept or reject potential ridesharing parties to help cover the cost of fuel. The app's intention is to find individuals with almost identical commutes to get one or more vehicles off the road and the rider(s) pays a pre-determined amount toward fuel costs through the app.  

The FAQs of the Waze Carpool app address payment and insurance considerations.

At one time, Waze was giving advice that the payments from riders would not be considered taxable; the company still notes that most states consider not-for-profit carpooling to be allowable in car insurance policies. We hope the program gets expanded to other states soon, as all of the AutoSlash team members have "commutes" from our homes to various regional airports and our cars are fairly inexpensive to operate on a per-mile basis. I already have the app downloaded when/if the Nashville area gets access to the program!

Note to self: Don't use my customized directions during Waze Carpool ...

Do you have a helpful app for drivers/renters that you would like the AutoSlash team to review? Send us a note at feedback@autoslash.com and we might feature your idea in a future article.


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