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5 reasons why I use Waze over Google Maps

Key Takeaways

  • Waze routes are faster than Google Maps due to traffic avoidance. It also has accurate hazard reporting
  • Waze is community-driven and reliable and lets you customize your experience with celebrity voices and icons.
  • These are a few reasons why I’m a dedicated Waze user and won’t be fully switching to Google Maps any time soon.

There are plenty of navigation apps out there, from Apple Maps to TomTom GO, but two of the most popular are Waze and Google Maps. Both are free apps, and both are owned by Google, but thankfully, the tech giant has kept Waze as a separate app rather than trying to fold its features into Google Maps. It means you get a choice of which of Google’s navigation apps to use, as they’re both very different in their approaches.

Personally, I’ve been using Waze for years, and although I still use Google Maps now and again, I always find myself going back to Waze as my go-to driving navigation app. Here are five key reasons why I use Waze over Google Maps.


I tested Google Maps against Waze to see which is really better

Google owns two navigation apps: Google Maps and Waze. I use Waze, but I downloaded Google Maps to see how it compares.

1 Better route planning

Get from A to B faster

using waze app in car

Both apps are owned by Google so you might expect them to generate the same routes for a specific journey. However, this is rarely the case. That’s because Waze is designed to get you to your destination in the shortest time possible and will happily take you via a slightly strange route if it means avoiding traffic congestion or an accident. Google Maps usually generates a more direct route but one that can end up being a little slower.

For example, I tried entering the same destination on both apps. Waze gave me a route that was 325 miles long and would take five hours and 31 minutes. Google Maps generated a route that was shorter, at 324 miles, but would take five hours 53 minutes. Unless a route is really crazy, I always prefer to get there as quickly as possible, and I’ve found Waze to be better in this regard.



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2 Better hazard reporting

Get real-time hazard reports

waze running on in-car display

Waze is built on a social network of Waze users whose data is shared with all other users. Waze will use information about how fast other users are traveling to estimate how busy roads are and use this information to build the most efficient routes. However, users can also add their own data, such as traffic accidents, speed traps, and other hazards.

These warnings are usually incredibly accurate. For example, I regularly get warnings about vehicles stopped at the side of the road, and these are almost always exactly where the warning says they will be. If they’re not, I can quickly tap the screen to indicate that the hazard is no longer there. Waze has recently added new hazard reporting options, too, including speed bumps and toll booths.

There is hazard reporting in Google Maps, but the feature is still fairly new and relies on other users taking advantage of it. Many may be unaware that hazard reporting is an option in Google Maps, but it has been a key part of Waze for years. This makes the hazard reporting in Waze far more accurate.


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3 Customization options

Keep things interesting with new voices and icons

waze spicy gingerbread man

Have you ever been driving and so lost in your own thoughts that you don’t even hear the instructions from your navigation app and sail on past the turn you’re supposed to make? It’s easy to do, especially with the same monotonous voice talking to you every few minutes. Waze shakes things up a bit by giving you a huge choice of different voices to use, including some excellent celebrity voice.

A lot of these voices are short-term options that are used as promotional tools or only appear for the holidays. For example, right now I can get my instructions in the voice of Ray Stantz, Dan Akroyd’s character from the movie Ghostbusters, which is promoting the release of the latest movie in the franchise. There are plenty of other options that stick around, too, such as Zombie, Noir Detective, and 80s Aerobics Instructor.

Alongside the voices, it’s also possible to customize the icon that displays on the map to show your location to other Waze users, which allows you to indicate your current mood.


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4 Faster rerouting

Quick route updates if problems arise

waze on iphone in car

The initial route that Waze generates is the optimal route based on the current traffic conditions. However, things can change on your journey. Some roads may get busier, slowing you up, or there may be accidents or other hazards that make the current route less ideal.

If this happens, Waze will suggest an alternative route, and inform you how much time you can save by switching to this route. It will do so quite aggressively; if a quicker route is found, Waze will usually let you know, meaning the route can change several times on your journey.

Google Maps will change the route occasionally, but it doesn’t seem to do so nearly as often, which is probably down to not having as much user-submitted information to go on. If you want the quickest response to changes on your route, then Waze is the way to go.


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5 In-app fuel prices

Find the cheapest fuel faster

waze fuel prices

Both apps allow you to search for gas stations and EV charging stations on or close to your route. However, Waze has one major advantage over Google Maps in this regard. While Google Maps will show the location of the gas stations, you won’t get any information about how much you’ll have to pay.

In the Waze app, you won’t just see the locations of the gas stations, but you can also see the prices, too. This information can be submitted by the gas stations themselves, or it can be submitted by other Waze users. This allows you to quickly find the cheapest place to fill up without going too far out of your way.

You’ll see the prices on the map, but below the map you can see more information, including the date that the price was added to the app. It means you can disregard the prices that haven’t been updated for a while and just consider those that were updated recently.

This is yet another benefit of the social aspect of Waze, with users able to share information such as fuel prices that can benefit everyone using the app.


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Q: Is there any reason to choose Google Maps over Waze?

It’s a little strange that Google owns two very different navigation apps and still runs them both separately, but it does mean you get more choice. Above are some of the key reasons why I still use Waze as my navigation app of choice, but there are some features that Google Maps has in its favor, too.

For example, Google Maps allows you to download maps for offline use so that you can navigate even when you don’t have a network connection. Google Maps also offers directions for walking and cycling, as well as public transport and flight information. However, when it comes to driving, I’m still sticking with Waze for now.

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