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Google Maps has become the gold standard for finding your way around strange areas, particularly if you're on foot or using public transit. But if you're sitting in traffic on your way to work every day, it's time to quit Google Maps and move over to Waze.
Waze, which is owned by Google, has some of the same traffic information that you find on Google Maps, but it's provided in real time by other nearby drivers using the app. In my area, for example, it has data from more than 50,000 other drivers on nearby roads.
It's super useful because drivers ahead of you can tell you about road closures, traffic, police officers, accidents and more. And, if you have a passenger in your car, they can alert other drivers to what's going on.
Waze takes all this data to provide you the best route possible. It also has other benefits, like showing you the cheapest gas prices along your route so you can save money on longer trips.
Here's how to get started with Waze.
I'll show you how to use it.
There are two ways to navigate somewhere. First, you can speak your destination by tapping the red microphone at the top of the screen. This is also where you can quickly tap an icon to find parking, gas stations, food, coffee and more.
Second, you can view saved favorite places, like your home address or work, by tapping the search button at the bottom of the screen.
Waze will analyze information that it pulls in from other drivers around you and then give you the fastest route possible to a location.
But that's just part of what you can do with Waze.
Waze can show you what it thinks is the fastest way to get somewhere, but sometimes there might be better routes. Here's how to find alternative routes to your destination:
You can alert other drivers to police activity, accidents, road closures and more. I recommend having a passenger do this, as it takes a little time and might distract you fom driving. To report something:
You can share your estimated time of arrival with anyone, right from inside the Waze app. To do this:
You might use Spotify for listening to podcasts or a playlist while driving. Now you can start, pause and skip through those right from Waze, without switching apps. Here's how:
Note that this feature only lets you change playlists and skip or stop a song or podcast inside Waze. For full controls, like searching for songs, you'll still need to open the Spotify app.
I like to have visual directions, especially to know about issues along my route, but I don't always need a voice telling me each turn to make. Here's how to limit when Waze speaks out directions once you've started driving:
You can easily change the spoken language from English to one of dozens of other options. To change the language in Waze:
That's just a taste of what you can do with Waze. It's a really useful app for drivers, and one that lots of people rely on for getting places without sitting in too much traffic. Plus, if you have kids in the car, they might have fun reporting incidents as you drive.