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Waze vs. Google Maps: How They Work and Key Differences



Waze vs. Google Maps


Navigating daily traffic is challenging. With an increasing number of vehicles on the road, finding the fastest route is essential for a person to reach their destination. Apps like Google Maps and Waze help people in this case. 


What is Waze?

Waze is an application that helps people navigate traffic. It was the collective idea of three Israeli friends in 2008, and Google later acquired ownership of the application in 2013. Waze uses real-time data to help its users choose the best route. 


What is Google Maps?

Google Maps is also a navigation app that helps users reach their destinations. It is a more extensive web service that provides more information about places and regions. Google Maps officially launched in 2005.


How do Waze and Google Maps work?

Waze mainly works through data sourced from its own users. Traffic data is collected in real-time through its users, beta testers, partners, etc. Waze directly provides information on accidents, possible obstacles, cameras, blocks, etc., and allows easy traffic. Users have the option to update on these incidents at the moment as they pass through. Thus, through crowd-sourcing information, Waze manages to provide turn-by-turn updates on the routes. 


Google Maps uses satellite technology and aerial imagery for its services. Users can access the maps through websites and mobile applications. Google Maps uses a combination of GPS data, user inputs, and real-time traffic data to provide accurate information for its users. Image recognition, machine learning, and geospatial data analysis also work behind the app to maintain accuracy. 


Pros and Cons of Waze


  • Built-in GPS–Waze has an inbuilt GPS feature that tracks your exact location, making navigation easier. 
  • Updated Maps–Waze’s users constantly update its maps, allowing users to reroute when necessary.
  • Reconfiguration–Waze constantly refigures your route to reach the destination faster.
  • Voice-Over–Waze’s voice features the sounds of Morgan Freeman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Hart, Shaq, etc. This makes driving more fun.
  • Community focus–Waze uses the surrounding Waze users in your locality. This way, it acts more like a social media, offering interaction along the way.


  • Cluttered Maps–Waze’s maps feature ads. This might be a potential distraction for the drivers. Also, the idea of using it as a social media platform drifts it further away from its original function.
  • Data Connection–Waze does not feature an offline facility. You have to be continuously online to use Waze, which can drain the battery.
  • Rerouting–Maps in Waze could be rerouted at any moment. This will cause further distraction in driving.
  • Limited Vehicle Options–Waze allows users to choose only between a car and a motorcycle. 


Pros and Cons of Google Maps


  • Detailed Information–Google Maps provides its users with all the necessary information regarding businesses and their contacts in a locality. It also lists all the points of interest in a locality.
  • Street View imagery–Through satellite technology, Google Maps provides its users with images of the streets. 
  • Offline maps and location sharing–Offline maps are a highlight feature of Google Maps. A person’s location can also be shared easily. 
  • Connectivity across platforms–Google Maps can be used in many other applications that need location services. 
  • Vehicle Modes–Google Maps always features routes depending on different modes of transport, Such as Car, Bike, Bus, Train, and walking.


  • Limited Offline Coverage–Even though it is a highlighted feature, offline maps seem to work only in certain areas. In other areas without a regular internet connection, their performance is deemed poor. 
  • Privacy concern–Users’ data and information, location history, etc., are all stored by Google. This has been a regular cause of concern for people across the world. 
  • Inaccurate information–Depending on third-party and user information, inaccuracy is a common accusation against Google Maps.
  • Google Services–Google Maps is closely integrated with other Google services, which can be irritating for people who choose not to use these services. 


Waze vs. Google Maps

The question of which app is better has been around for a while. There is no concrete answer available to this question at the moment. This is partly because of the diverse nature of both these apps. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. And then there is the question of ownership. Since Google owns both applications, some ethical questions were raised concerning competitiveness. However, Waze is still managed separately and has no connection with Google Maps. Several aspects need to be looked into to provide an optimal answer to the question of which app is more practical. They include:



Waze features two types of advertisements. They are

  • Banner Ads–These ads are displayed across the main screen during navigation. They are mainly displayed when the vehicle stops. It disappears when the car starts moving.
  • Pinned ads–They appear as nearby businesses on the screen. They are Waze’s primary source of revenue.

Google Maps, on the other hand, is relatively less aggressive with ads.

  • Ads are displayed as square icons on the screen, and sponsored ads are placed over the top of search results.



Both applications use different methods in terms of navigation. They are ultimately used for this purpose alone. 

  • When Google Maps shows a user multiple routes to reach the destination, Waze provides the fastest route. 
  • Voice assistance is a part of both applications.
  • The main difference lies in the different forms of transportation. In Google Maps, one can choose from a variety of modes—Cars, Bikes, Buses, Trains, Cycles, and even walking. Waze, on the other hand, only allows its users to choose two modes—car or motorcycle.
  • Google Maps allows the user to access rides on other platforms. Waze has a carpooling feature that allows for ride sharing.
  • There is a main difference in how routes and time are calculated. Google uses historical data and satellite information to present the best possible routes. Waze relies on its own community of users to provide the best routes. In places where users are few, Waze cannot help its users.


Traffic Information

There are differences in how real-time traffic conditions are represented in both applications. 

  • As Waze depends heavily on its users, traffic conditions like roadwork, accidents, blockade, speed of lanes etc., are presented better in Waze. Google Maps depend upon government authorities, sensors and previous data sources to determine the conditions. 
  • Both apps use red color to denote heavy traffic, and green to indicate less traffic. Yellow color is used to indicate a busy road in Google Maps. 
  • Speed of different lanes is indicated in Waze, but not on Google Maps. The vehicle speed is shown.


User Interface

The success of any application depends upon how user-friendly it really is. In the case of Google Maps and Waze, this can be tricky. Both of them are relatively easy to use for the users but for separate functions. They would be pleasing to separate sections of people. 

  • Waze runs a more game-like interface for its users. Google Maps adorns a more functional outlook. 
  • The icons in Waze are comparatively bigger when compared to Google Maps. 
  • Waze uses large icons to showcase different access options–destination, music, and reporting problems etc. Google Maps use relatively small icons.
  • There is separate space in Waze to report real-time traffic issues. This feature is not available on Google Maps. 
  • A profile can be set up in Waze, through which one can interact with other people around. Every profile is a ‘baby Wazer’ when they first join. Depending upon information on traffic problems they provide to Waze, they level up. ‘Waze Knight’ and ‘Waze Royalty’ are two of the highest levels that users can reach. Google Maps do not feature these kinds of activities. It only connects with a user’s google account. 



With its social media outlook, Waze offers more networking opportunities to its users than Google Maps does. 

  • The rewarding nature of Waze to its users allows for people in a locality to connect with each other. It also offers customization for its users. A person can even record their own voice for their use. Google Maps does not have any of these features.
  • Google maps allows its users to provide reviews of local businesses. The only reward they offer is that they get a rating. 
  • For people looking for more ways of expressing and representation, Waze might be the better option. For others, who seek only the functional aspect of navigation, Google Maps will be the better option. 
  • Navigation is more fun with Waze, and is purely functional with Google Maps.


Offline services

This is a significant area where the two apps differ. 

  • Google Maps allows its users to download maps of places where there is little to no connectivity. In Waze, this option is not available. 
  • The limited capacity of Waze only allows its users to save their favorite routes. As Waze may not have users outside a busy area like cities or towns, no information will be available for the driver to navigate through. 



Both the applications are available for use in both android and IOs devices. They can also be connected to the respected vehicles featuring these devices. In conclusion, Waze is more useful in urban areas, where connectivity and users are more. Google Maps also can be used in urban areas, but as it makes use of satellite information and technology, it will be more useful outside the urban centers.