Google Maps Is Better Than Waze on American Roads

Waze and Google Maps are the most popular navigation apps today 7 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
Google Maps shines in the U.S.Google Maps traffic informationGoogle Maps traffic informationGoogle Maps traffic informationGoogle Maps traffic informationGoogle Maps traffic information
Google Maps is often considered the go-to navigation app no matter where you live, but on the other hand, the popularity of certain alternatives is continuously on the rise.
For example, Waze is often the preferred solution for beating heavy traffic in urban areas. Thanks to its crowdsourcing engine, Waze keeps drivers in the know about what happens on the road, eventually calculating the ETA more accurately as well.

The battle between Google Maps and Waze happens on various fronts. Both provide navigation instructions and turn-by-turn guidance, but they’re still different from each other, thanks to unique features.

Waze has this fantastic crowdsourcing engine, while Google Maps also supports offline maps. Waze can look for better motorcycle routes, but Google Maps allows users to explore a destination using street-level imagery.

As such, choosing the better navigation app comes down to what every user needs. And if the user needs road and traffic updates, Google Maps is the best choice in the United States.

Google Maps vs. Waze

Research conducted by Peter Vardy proved that Google Maps accurately provided traffic and road updates on 85 percent of American roads. Waze’s score is significantly lower, as its data was accurate in just 69 percent of the cases.

The analysis started with Peter Vardy collecting social media information to determine the most popular navigation apps. Waze came on top with 54.1 percent, followed by Google Maps with 28.8 percent. HERE WeGo was the third with 11.2 percent, while Apple Maps finished fourth with a disappointing 2.1 percent score.

Then, the company compared these four most popular navigation apps against each other on road trips in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Google Maps performed particularly well on American roads, but its road and traffic information was awful in the United Kingdom. The application correctly provided only 60 percent of traffic reports on British routes.

While Waze was significantly worse than Google Maps in the United States, the same thing cannot be said about the United Kingdom. This is where Waze shined, as it correctly reported 80 percent of traffic conditions.

Google Maps shines in the U\.S\.
Photo: Peter Vardy

Apple Maps

Apple is working around the clock on building a better Google Maps alternative, but so far, Apple Maps is still considered an underdog that’s missing way too many essential features.

For example, Apple Maps does not offer offline maps and satellite navigation compared to Google Maps. As such, a permanent Internet connection is required if you want to use Apple Maps for navigation.

Research data shows Apple Maps is just as accurate as Google Maps on American roads, as it correctly provided 85 percent of traffic updates on its home playground. And what’s more, it’s also as awful as Google Maps in the United Kingdom, as it received the same 60 percent score here too.

These statistics show Apple Maps continues to be focused primarily on the American experience. Apple typically prioritizes North American markets for the release of new features, while the rest of the world must wait up to several years to get big updates.

Its accuracy in Europe leaves a lot to be desired, and the study reveals that Apple Maps wrongly indicated some locations were closed, while the pinpoint on the map was incorrect in at least one case.

The most accurate timings

An essential feature of a navigation app is the ETA. Needless to say, it’s critical for users to get a more accurate estimate, especially when taking into account changing traffic conditions.

The study compared each app’s ETA with the average travel time. Google Maps was the king of time estimations, followed by Waze and Apple Maps. HERE WeGo finished fourth with the same score as Apple Maps.

However, Google Maps and Waze provide the most accurate ETAs, particularly because they also consider traffic updates. This way, they can estimate the time of arrival more accurately, as they are in the know about what’s happening on the route ahead.

Google Maps traffic information
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution


The study does nothing more than confirm what most people already know: Google Maps and Waze are the two best navigation apps right now.

Both shine in terms of navigation experience and traffic information, though it’s pretty clear that everything depends on where you use them. From my experience, Waze is indeed the better choice in Europe, pretty much because the application has more users here.

The crowdsourcing engine gets more effective as the user base grows. As such, the more users, the more reports, with Waze eventually able to calculate ETAs and provide traffic updates more accurately. Living proof is Apple Maps’ incident reporting feature in the United States.

The new capabilities are still in their early days, so the adoption lags significantly behind Waze. As such, if you use Apple Maps for traffic reports, the feature is almost non-existent. Speed trap and hazard reports on Apple Maps rarely show up, particularly because of the reduced feature user base.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
Bogdan Popa profile photo

Bogdan keeps an eye on how technology is taking over the car world. His long-term goals are buying an 18-wheeler because he needs more space for his kid’s toys, and convincing Google and Apple that Android Auto and CarPlay deserve at least as much attention as their phones.
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