Haven’t we all been in that time crunch situation, when we need to get to office or college, or worse, meet that constantly nagging girlfriend (hope she isn’t reading this!) and suddenly, you are bombarded with that annoying , apparently the most important question answerable by man as of today-
“HOW LONG BEFORE YOU REACH?”
One such situation arose when I was late (as I always am..) and I receive the expected call “ Dude! HOW LONG BEFORE YOU REACH? ”. How I wish they could understand this one thing… How is a person supposed to know about the traffic he can’t see?
That’s when I unlocked my Android and opened this app I had downloaded deciding to put it to test –WAZE. Here I was, putting my friendship, probably more (if you know what I mean) at risk, and was now at the mercy of Waze to give me an expected time of arrival, or simply ETA.
But before I proceed, let’s see what the app promises to deliver:
– Community generated real time traffic
– Complete voice navigation
– Automatic re-routing
– Knowledge based learning
– Meet ups! (Share ETA with other Waze users)
– Live maps
So, I punch in my destination with some difficulty (Waze is still new, so there are still a few places which haven’t been added by users yet), but they have this really awesome integration with Google Maps and Foursquare to search for places. At 10:00 a.m, Waze gave me an ETA of 10:28 a.m (This was done taking the knowledge based learning algorithm, where an approximation of time taken by other Waze users on the same route was considered).
I took a deep breath, and with courage in my heart, messaged my friend that I’d meet her by 10:35 to be on the safe side (with our superbly B-MCed Mumbai roads, even God wouldn’t know when you’d get traf-fucked!).
Now, one really cool thing you discover is that on start-up, you are asked if you are the one at wheel, and if you are you should probably increase the voice navigation volume and concentrate on driving (Aww.. this app cares for you!). I was in a cab but still decided to test the voice navigation and I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the familiar female voice I was so accustomed to hearing on Ovi Maps (Sexy! as I called her, back then in the good ol’ Nokia days), asking me to take a right and then turn left.
While in the cab I decided to play around with the app a little more as Sexy (a must for all you forever alone guys) continued to guide me. In the neat layout of the app you can’t miss the report button, which, as the name suggests lets you report accidents, police checking, speed trap cameras or traffic jams (medium-heavy or stand-still) allowing you to change your decision and take a different route (keep in mind that Waze has already taken into consideration reports by other users on your route and decided the optimal route beforehand).
In the middle of all the experimentation, my friend calls again, this time with a not-so-subtle threat, “I will leave at sharp 10.30 with or without you.” (Sigh! Girls, after all, will be girls) I looked into my phone, Waze indicated 15 more minutes to go, and it was just 10:05! Did that mean I would reach early? That priceless feeling you get when you reach your destination earlier than expected, for the very first time began to wash over me. Just as I was dreaming of gloating and considering the possibility of the existence of a God, BOOM! A red box appeared on my screen –“Mr. XYZ reported a heavy traffic 300m ahead.” Just as I was trying to understand what it meant, my cab jerked and came to a halt. There it was, the sight which makes your blood pressure shoot –TRAFFIC (so much for faith… heh). But then, I realized, Waze was right! It did take me around ten minutes to get out of that traffic, and I was still going to reach at my ETA.
Back with my eyes on the screen I saw various other toddlers (avatars for new Waze users) like wazers in my vicinity (How cool is that? Pinging random wazers! Another score for the forever alone!). However, I decided to skip this part- chatting with unknown people really isn’t my thing.
Suddenly Sexy makes an announcement, “You are now reaching your destination.” And just like that, I reached at 10:30, on the dot (Five minutes earlier than the dot, to be precise.)
I can’t thank Waze enough, as for the first time, I could get out of my cab, walk up to my friend, look her in the eye, and say, “Right on time, sweetie!”
What we liked about the app:
- Social network / real-time traffic updates work like a charm and we were totally in awe with this concept
- Really cool options with the ability to report even police checking
- Optimal route calculation
- Strong integration with Facebook / Foursquare / Twitter
- Neat map display with the option of night (which, for the record, looks pretty darn hot) and day modes
- Waze points -the more you travel, the more points you earn, the better your rank (something like Foursquare)
What we didn’t like:
- Optimal routes may not be favorable for users, and if you prefer another route, route recalculation might cause your phone to crash
- Social network based system needs time to grow, as it depends on a number of users with reports etc.
- The layout needs to grow up a little (Honestly, baby waze toddlers for new waze users, is downright weird, when the ‘baby’ is supposedly driving and navigating)
On the whole, I loved the concept of Waze. Seems to have much promise, and has a great chance of being very popular.