Months ago, I noted that Waze was being advertised throughout the city on digital street signage, normally used for hazard or construction notices. Obviously, I had to install the app to see why Winnipeg was in favour of drivers using it.
At first glance I didn’t like the appearance of Waze. The UI isn’t as clean and sharp as Google Maps. Yet, I carried on and made myself explore the app further, after a week’s use now, I don’t see myself going back to anything else.
Waze is hugely based on the users of the app. As I drive around the city, I have a large orange button on the bottom right at the ready. Pressing this sets a marker. Then either immediately, at the next set of lights, or once you reach your destination, you can select what exactly it is you saw. This includes road construction, potholes, photo radar, slow traffic, road closures, gas prices, or map errors.
Connecting with friends within Waze is handy too. In my case, I pick up my wife from work all the time. When I leave my work, I set Waze’s destination to my wife’s workplace and send her an ETA. Since she too has Waze, she gets notified when I leave work, am close, and when I arrived. I never have to touch my device once.
Here in Winnipeg, we’re known for having constant construction on the roads. Well, I can tell there community has a good size to it here, because as I drive around with Waze running on my phone, I often hear, “Road hazard ahead”, with several markers on the map set by other users in the city.
Waze isn’t all business either. You start off as a “Baby Wazer” and as you drive around and report things, you gain points. After driving around for about 100 kms with Waze running on my phone, I’ve leveled up, allowing me to customize things such as my profile avatar and map marker. Right now my avatar is the Geek, and on the map, my arrow is now a blue car, but Lightening McQueen from Cars is an option.
You can also change the voice you hear giving directions and information. I’ve tried out the Lightening McQueen voice (by Owen Wilson) and it is pretty funny. That said, you lose out on street names being read out, along with some other verbal notifications, so I went back to default.
I really encourage fellow Winnipeggers to use this app. It really is reliable, useful, easy to use, and fun!