Waze vs. Apple Maps and Why Traffic Reports Are Such a Big Deal

iOS 14.5 is the biggest iPhone update since iOS 14 because it includes plenty of new features while also enforcing the new App Tracking Transparency policy that advertisers across the world have been criticizing so heavily lately.
Waze on CarPlay 4 photos
Photo: autoevolution
Apple Maps on CarPlayWaze on the CarPlay dashboardThe supported Waze reports
But in addition to options to unlock Face ID-protected iPhones with an Apple Watch, new battery calibration information, more emoji, and Siri enhancements, there’s also a little something for drivers who rely on Apple Maps for their navigation purposes.

That would be incident reporting support, a feature that’s been around for a while in other apps and is now making its way to Apple Maps as well.

It goes without saying that the first big name that comes to mind when talking about incident reporting is Waze, the Google-owned app that’s already the top choice when it comes to crowdsourcing.

And at first glance, the Waze audience is exactly the one that Apple seems to be aiming for with this new update, as Apple Maps users would essentially be able to send reports pretty much just like they do in the Google app.

Waze on the CarPlay dashboard
Photo: autoevolution

Apple Maps vs. Waze

The first thing that makes a big difference between the two is platform support.

Apple Maps is only available on iPhone and CarPlay, whereas Waze can be installed on Android, iPhone, Android Auto, and CarPlay. So, in addition to Apple’s own platforms, Waze also supports Google’s operating system while also expanding the same experience to cars running Android Auto.

Needless to say, there’s no chance to see Apple launching Apple Maps on Android. Still, in the long term, if the Cupertino-based tech giant wants its app to become a fully-featured alternative to Google Maps and Waze, that is going to be one major shortcoming.

Then, it’s the type of reports users can submit in the two apps.

At this point, Apple Maps only allows users to report accidents, hazards, and speed traps. Waze comes with a plethora of options, including multiple levels of traffic jams and police checks, objects on the road, broken traffic lights, floods, fog, roadkill, and so many others.

Best of all, all Waze reports are available for everybody regardless of the platform, so they can be sent on both Android and iPhone.

The supported Waze reports
There’s also a difference in how you send these reports.

While you can obviously rely on touch input for the whole thing, the recommended way to go is voice support, as it allows you to focus on the road and still send reports.

The Siri integration in Apple Maps allows users to submit a report easily by just saying “Hey Siri, there’s something on the road,” and the same way works both on the iPhone and on CarPlay.

The experience with voice commands in Waze, on the other hand, still requires additional polishing, as the “OK, Waze” command that was once recommended struggled with background noise, while other assistants still aren’t playing nice with the app.

And last but not least, one big shortcoming for Apple Maps is the limited availability.

Only Apple Maps users in the United States and China can currently submit reports, while Waze is available pretty much everywhere, both in America and overseas.

So, in theory, if you’re traveling abroad, you can very well rely on Waze for traffic navigation, though keep in mind that in some cases, certain reports such as police traps may not show up due to legal reasons.

Apple Maps on CarPlay
Photo: MacRumors

Why user reports are so important

All these reports rely on crowdsourcing, and the biggest benefit of such an implementation is that it makes the navigation apps as accurate as possible.

Once someone sees an accident on the road and reports it in Apple Maps or Waze, everyone else approaching the area should see the notification. This feature allows everybody to be in the know and prepared for what’s happening on the road ahead.

Crowdsourcing allows navigation apps to be updated in real-time with road information, all without their parent companies doing anything. It all comes down to us, the users, so it’s now our responsibility to make sure the information we submit in Apple Maps and Waze is accurate.
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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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