Waze Becomes the First Free Google Maps Alternative on Android Automotive

Android Automotive is Google’s big bet in the car world, and it’s all happening for a very good reason. Thanks to deeper integration of its own services, Google can eventually control more vehicle systems, including the air conditioning settings and even battery data.
Waze on Android Automotive 6 photos
Photo: Google
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The adoption of Android Automotive, however, is happening slower than expected, especially as the developer support for the platform isn’t by any means improving at a fast pace. Many essential apps for the driving experience are still missing, and despite partnerships between Google and carmakers, Android Automotive is yet to become everybody’s cup of tea.

This could change today as Waze is finally making its first steps on Android Automotive.

The Google-owned application is getting support for this platform, with Renault Austral and Megane E-Tech buyers to be the first allowed to try it out.

Here’s everything you need to know about Waze on Android Automotive.

Just like Google Maps, Waze takes full advantage of the available screen estate, providing drivers with the same rich set of features as on all the other platforms, including Android Auto, CarPlay, iPhone, and Android.

The crowdsourcing engine that’s powering Waze, therefore, becomes available for Android Automotive users too, so drivers will have access to real-time routing, navigation, and alerts, all right into their car displays - though the app won't come pre-loaded with the OS but will be available on the Play Store.

But as compared to Google Maps, Waze isn’t getting any smart features on Android Automotive. For instance, thanks to the deeper integration into the vehicle, Google Maps can read battery information and provide routing based on the estimated range. If the current battery level isn’t enough to allow the driver to reach a configured destination, Google Maps can automatically add a charging station along the route.

Waze can’t do this, or at least, not right now. However, what sets Waze apart from the rest of the crowd is its impressive reporting system that allows drivers to be in the know about what’s happening on the road ahead.

Until today, Google Maps was pretty much the only free navigation app on Android Automotive. While drivers could still choose from several alternatives, including Sygic’s award-winning software, Google Maps was the only choice that was offered with a freeware license. Waze is therefore becoming the first free alternative to Google Maps, so it’ll be interesting to see if the two Google-owned apps end up cannibalizing each other.

The good news at the end of the day is that the adoption of Android Automotive is on the rise, and the debut of apps like Waze certainly helps on this front. Most cars running this platform should get access to Waze at some point next year, but expect more information on this front in a few months.
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About the author: Bogdan Popa
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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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