Note from the Editor: This is the first post as part of our “Daily App” series, where Nimish hunts down some of the best (and mostly free) apps in the mobile world. Nimish being platform agnostic, you can expect him to cover apps on all the major mobile operating systems.
There are times when you come across apps that make you scratch your head in wonder and go “why on EARTH are they handing it out free?” Well, Waze is one of those worthies. We started using it about a year ago, and thanks to the awesome maps update on iOS (we are being sarcastic, gents and ladies – notice the raised eyebrows as we type?), we have become well-nigh addicted to it on our iOS devices. Honestly, it is even giving Google Maps a good run for its money on Android. Yep, THAT good.
So, what exactly is Waze and why are we raving about it? Well, as you might have guessed it is a navigation app. You use it to find your way around town – and yes, it works in most major Indian cities (we have seen it work in Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai just fine) and most cities across the world. But what makes it different is that it is also a social network of sorts – you can show the mood you are in, make groups, chat with friends and so on. More importantly, when you are driving you can get alerts about traffic snarl ups, accidents or even about police presence on the routes, and of course, being part of the network, you can send these out yourself and help everyone else.
The navigation works just dandy, although you need a data connection to keep it going, and before you ask, yes, there is support for turn by turn voice navigation too. All in a neat largely icon driven interface – talking of icons, a very neat touch is the fact that the app will not let access the keyboard if it senses you are driving. You will have to check the “passenger” option to get access to it. We can see the traffic lawmakers nodding in approval.
The maps are a bit on the basic side (do not expect slick graphics, detailed points of interest and highly detailed graphics), but hey, they are more than reasonably accurate and more importantly, they work fast. And yes, you can send suggestions for correcting the maps where you think they err. You can also work out your way to meet friends who happen to be in the vicinity, as the maps are “live” and you can see people on your network on the roads. Kind of cool!
So, to summarise – maps, navigation (voice), friends and community (you can login using Facebook), alerts about traffic, works in most large Indian cities…and NO PRICE TAG. Yes, it is totally free. Which takes Waze on to our Must Download list of Android and iOS apps. Heck, we even stopped complaining about Maps on iOS 6 since we started using it. To repeat – yep, THAT good.