Waze is one of the best competitors of Google Maps, and weirdly enough, it is also owned by Google, and yet exists as a standalone app. What this also means is that we have two solid navigation apps. In this article, we’ll help you choose between them as we compare Waze vs. Google Maps.
Google Maps has always been the gold standard for GPS navigation on smartphones. However, over the last few years, Waze has definitely caught up to the competition. Every now and then, we also meet people who have admittedly used Waze as much as they use Google Maps.
But is the community-driven Waze better than Google Maps? If yes, why? Or should you just stick to the ever-so-reliable Google Maps? Find out all the answers in this comprehensive comparison between Waze and Google Maps.
Google Maps vs. Waze: User Interface
We’ve been users of Google Maps for the last few years, and we have had no complaints at all. The app is quite user-friendly, and all your important functions and features are bold and easy to spot so that you don’t spend time searching for them while driving or riding.
Directions and navigation options have good contrast for better visibility, and the navigation screen has just the number of buttons that you need. A neat little touch is that the app interface automatically turns into dark mode as you drive in a darker environment, say a tunnel or an underpass.
Overall Google Maps has a good, highly functional user interface. And just when we thought it could not get any better, we started using Waze.
When we started using Waze, there was one constant thought – we could not believe we could have fun using a navigation app on our phones. The color schemes, UI elements, icons, and overall language were such a refreshing change. Perhaps we find ourselves appreciating it because we’ve only stuck to one app for years, but it seemed more interesting than Google Maps.
There seems to be no compromise in the functionality of the UI too, as we were able to find all options quickly. When you get such impressions the first time you use an app, you know that the designers have done a great job.
Therefore, we have two very good and highly functional user interfaces, but Waze gets a win as it feels so much more fun and refreshing to use.
Google Maps vs. Waze: Faster Routes and Traffic Accuracy
Both Google Maps and Waze offer accurate turn-by-turn directions. Google Maps provides directions for driving, riding, cycling, and walking whereas Waze focuses heavily on driving and riding directions. Both apps also do a good job of giving you an overview of the traffic.
To make it clear, both apps offer more or less the same accuracy in the GPS location and we had no troubles. However, when you start a journey, Google Maps looks into the traffic and all the other data points and starts the journey with the fastest route. Further, it continues the same route until you reach your destination – even if conditions get worse.
This is where Waze does a better job. Firstly, it lets you pick a route. Google Maps also suggests alternatives before you start, but Waze provides a better interface to make a choice.
Further, when you pick the fastest route on Waze, and if it gets worse midway and is not the ‘fastest’ route anymore, it automatically reroutes to a faster route.
While we read about this feature earlier, when we used it in the real world, we found a difference. We did find Waze to take us faster to the destination in comparison to Google Maps, given how it was able to change routes based on real-time traffic.
However, keep in mind that many data points on Waze are added by fellow users, and datasets are ‘community driven’; so if you are in a region with a few Waze users, you might not have a great experience.
That said, we can conclude that Waze does a much better job of minimizing delays and getting you to your destination faster.
Google Maps vs. Waze: Trip Planning
This is where Google Maps blows Waze out of the water. Trip planning on Waze is quite a hassle. For one, it does not offer any public transport information. Whereas, public transport information in Google Maps is excellent, with accurate timings and ETAs for trains and buses.
Google Maps also offers information regarding available app-based cab services in the city, along with the estimated price and ride time. Both apps provide information regarding EV chargers as well, but Waze shows EV charger locations in the US only.
However, if you are driving or riding on your own, Waze offers a trip planning tool that uses historical data to determine traffic in a specific time range and offers an overview of how your journey will be. This feature is available on Google Maps as well.
Overall, we feel Google Maps does a better job in helping you plan a trip, and the features on Waze on this front are pretty barebones. We wish Waze adds a few features.
Winner: Google Maps
Google Maps vs. Waze: Nearby Suggestions
We can split this into two subcategories – nearby suggestions in terms of establishments (restaurants, shops, petrol pumps, etc.) and nearby suggestions in terms of road conditions (roadwork, accidents, potholes, etc.)
Google Maps does a much better job in comparison to Waze when it comes to suggesting nearby restaurants, shops, and other businesses. Google Maps embeds information from Google Search onto this. Therefore, you can see reviews, information, contact details, and images of all businesses. This is not possible in Waze at all. At best, you just have the contact details.
Therefore, if you are looking for an app to be your local guide – use Google Maps. No, don’t even try Waze for this.
However, in terms of nearby road conditions, Waze does a good job. It does not show more information than Google, but road conditions are presented better and are easy to view and spot on the map. Both apps also have a parking location feature, where they help you locate your parked car.
For example, Waze helped us avoid a few potholes while riding and this was only possible due to the way it was highlighted on the route, as it focuses on community-driven data. Thanks to the users who added such information to the app. Waze tells you about speed traps, crashes, and road closures and also offers roadside help.
So Waze does a good job here but is no compensation for the lack of other missing features we mentioned.
Winner: Google Maps
Google Maps vs. Waze: Additional Features
Street View on Google Maps is a major reason why we never want to fully switch to Waze. This is not available on Waze, and hence, is a strong reason why Google Maps stands out all the time. Other than that, as mentioned earlier, Google Maps offers a plethora of features that make it a full-fledged local guide application. Especially if you are new to a city, it helps you explore a lot of attractions, and other places you must visit as a tourist.
But Waze has quite a few amusing features. While Google Maps has icons for your car on the map, Waze takes it up a notch with a lot more fun options for the same. Next is the football commentary feature, where the voice-guided navigation is in the form of a football commentary and we wish the product management team at Waze gets a raise. It is quite funny and is great to set you in the mood for the upcoming world cup.
These were some features that stood out and caught our attention on Google Maps and Waze. However, if you feel we missed out on adding or mentioning any feature – check out the overview in the next section.
Google Maps vs. Waze: Overview
Here’s a quick overview of all the other features and how both Waze and Google Maps have integrated them into their app.
|Availability||Android, iOS, iPadOS, and Web|
|Android, iOS, iPadOS, and Web|
|Maps Data||Operates on data stored from years of collection.||Operates on stored data and real-time crowdsourced data.|
|Music Integration||Available with all popular music apps.||Available with all popular music apps.|
|Voice Guided Navigation||Multi-lingual||Multi-lingual|
|Alerts and Reports||Provides all alerts and hazards||Provides all alerts and hazards|
|Toll Roads and Passes||Displays them on the route||Displays them along the route|
|Reminders||Available with calendar integration.||Available with calendar integration.|
|Location History||Google Maps shows location and navigation history in a dedicated tab.||Waze displays navigation history in a dedicated tab, but Google does a better job of helping you track visited places|
|Offline Maps||Available, you can download maps for a particular region and use them offline.||Unavailable|
Is Waze Better Than Google Maps: Verdict
This is what all of us have been waiting for. We’ve outlined all the features, and we’ve shown what’s there and what’s not – but which one to pick? Here are a few decision points that you can consider.
- If you are focused on getting to your destination faster and are barely bothered about other features – choose Waze.
- If you are focused on having a feature-rich travel guide in your pocket, pick Google Maps.
- If you only want directions for driving and riding, choose Waze.
- If you frequently check for walking directions too, use Google Maps.
Our Choice: We Found a Few Waze to Blend Both Apps
Bad puns apart, here’s the truth – we cannot recommend Waze as a standalone application. Sure, it might give you faster-driving directions, but Google Maps does much more. And it’s not like Google Maps is devoid of any alternate routes, it is just that it isn’t switched over automatically.
So, we recognized all of this, and here’s what we do. We use both apps, and when we are bored and looking for a change, we use Waze. And we only use it for driving directions and nothing else. We cannot fathom why anyone would want to uninstall Google Maps, as it is indeed a lifesaver, and has proved it so many times. Therefore, it is certainly a must-have!
This is everything that we have to say about the comparison of Google Maps vs. Waze. However, if you still have more questions, you can take a look at our FAQ section below.
FAQs on Google Maps vs. Waze
Yes, Waze has a web version which is also free to use.
Yes, Waze works in China.
It is a community-driven web-based application to edit and update maps according to surroundings.
Yes. Waze and Google Maps collect real-time traffic data from users who are already on the road
Both apps are known to drain the battery quickly, and in our experience, Waze drained the battery slightly more than Google Maps.
Yes, Waze does detect speed cameras, from the data sourced by the community.
Yes, Waze can tell you where cops are from the data sourced by the community.
Time to Make Your Choice: Google Maps or Waze
That’s it from our end, and now that you have read our comparison, we’re sure you were able to get a general idea of what both of these apps have to offer. GPS technology in the palm of our hands is something that we highly appreciate, and we cannot wait to see what’s in store next! But, which app have you finally landed on? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Last updated on 21 November, 2022
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I was waiting for a comparison actually, but I am disappointed. I dont know about your settings, but my google maps uses reall time traffic information and suggests me a faster route at any stage during the trip. More important, it lets me choose if I want actually change to the faster route or stay on track. I believe to remember that I can even do my settings whether I prefer if I am not reacting on the new situation. This feature is crutial to me. Plus you can chose your route based on your preference, i.e. economy, by entering your type of transportation (I am driving a hybrid car), and it guides you more on medium speed roads, even they might be slightly longer both in time and distance, but less fuel consuming, i.e. no stops due to traffic lights. I dont think that any other navigation app can do this wide range of useful features, rather than playful things like voice or car icon (btw also googlemaps has different icons). Thanks, keep up the good work. Pascal
Waze was good at one time I used it quickly easily and flawlessly I finally needed to use it about a year later 2021 1rst time 2022 2nd time 2nd time it was impossible It wouldn’t route me it didn’t have a go now button and therefore no voice instructions It told me I had an electric car So many convoluted disturbing and irrelevant distractions that I could not use the app at all Google Maps I opened it started to fill out destination was offered pre fill suggestions tap that tapped go now and away I went I threw the Waze app out the window with the phone
The worst thing about Google Maps, IMHO, is that when you get a phone call or make one, it shrinks into the lower right corner of your screen and doesn’t expand again when the call is over. To get it to expand you have to tap it in just the right spot which is fractions of an inch away from closing it altogether. It’s very unsatisfactory and, frankly, not safe since it forces you to take your eyes off the road