Waze Is About to Get the Biggest Update in Years, But Here Are 3 Features It Also Needs

Waze on CarPlay and iPhone 6 photos
Photo: Bogdan Popa/autoevolution
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No matter what critics say, Waze keeps evolving, and the recent announcement about the biggest feature update in years proves Google still has no plan to merge it with Google Maps.
Waze will continue to operate independently, and this is good news on all fronts. First, Waze not merging with Google Maps means users will have more choices, so if they don't want the feature-packed applications that significantly evolved beyond the navigation model, they already have an advanced alternative.

Second, Google can increase its presence in the automotive space using more than just one app. Google Maps and Waze look like similar solutions, but they're different animals, with the latter focused exclusively on traffic navigation. Its crowdsourcing engine enables users to send traffic reports and alert other motorists about hazards, including accidents, blocked lanes, roadkill, and speed traps.

The Google-owned company has recently announced a massive update that includes warnings for speed bumps and sharp curves, more roundabout navigation information, and other goodies that secure its position as the top Google Maps alternative.

While I applaud Waze's efforts, as all these features have long been top requests in the user base, the company should continue the work on adding new functionality. The following three features not only are popular requests but also align with Waze's main purpose of making the road safer more predictable by getting the driver prepared for what happens ahead on the route.

School zones

New Waze features
Photo: Waze
I don't know about you, but I mostly drive on urban roads, and school zones are common in my area. Since I live here, I already know where they're located, so I can easily spot drivers unfamiliar with the region. They typically drive faster than everybody else, don't anticipate the speed bumps, and brake hard when they spot them.

The Waze team has already confirmed that it plans to add school zone support to the application, but an ETA has never been provided.

However, it's easy to see why the feature would greatly improve traffic safety, albeit adding such a capability isn't easy. Waze must find a way to add school zones with holiday settings so the app will no longer generate alerts when the zone isn't active.

Kids playing on the street

New Waze features
Photo: Waze
It's 2024, and most kids are now addicted to mobile phones and tablets, but believe it or not, there still are children who like to play outside with their toys and everything else.

Kids playing on the street (or on its shoulder) are common in quiet neighborhoods where traffic is typically light. However, Waze's purpose is to find a faster route to the destination, so the application suggests any road with light traffic that could reduce the ETA to your destination.

Including quiet residential roads where you might find kids playing in front of the house or on the street.

Waze has long been under fire for directing heavy traffic on these narrow streets, but given its focus, the application can't avoid certain roads (unless specifically required by local officials or traffic authorities). As a result, warning drivers of the presence of kids playing on the street is a method to deal with this shortcoming, as everybody needs safer traffic and a reduced likelihood of accidents.

Trip statistics

New Waze features
Photo: Waze
If you're a former Google Maps user who migrated to Waze, one of the features you miss the most is probably the trip summary displayed when you arrive at the destination.

Google Maps displays essential trip statistics, such as the total time spent on the road when you reach your destination. Waze has already confirmed that it's working on such a feature, probably borrowed from Google Maps, albeit the company did not share an ETA as to when it could start rolling out to users.

Meanwhile, when you arrive at the destination with Waze, the application stops navigation without displaying any statistics on the screen.

Waze and Google Maps will likely continue to donate more features to each other, especially as Google plans to keep them on the market as separate offerings. Google Maps will likely benefit from this collaboration in the long term, mainly as Waze has become an incredible traffic data resource. The number of users running Waze keeps growing, and while traffic reports help improve the experience behind the wheel, the app also collects information even if it's only running on the screen (with navigation not enabled). The data is incredibly valuable, helping Waze understand traffic patterns and provide more accurate ETAs.

Waze is now giving the finishing touches to its highly anticipated update filled with new features, and users are expected to receive the major pack of improvements in the coming weeks. Waze promised the rollout would begin by the end of April, so keep your eyes on the next update for speed bump warnings, sharp curve notifications, improved roundabout guidance with lane information and exit details, and toll booths.
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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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