For those of you who are disappointed by the Apple Maps app’s apparent inability to send you in the right direction when used as a traffic app, you might be tempted to find a paid-for GPS navigation app to assist you in route finding. Before you do that you might want to consider the totally free Waze Map and GPS app, which is a social app, which collects data as you are driving and lumps it together with data from other drivers to relay real-time traffic conditions. Essentially the more you use Waze, the smarter it gets. So is it a viable alternative to the expensive alternative GPS apps available for your iPad?
First up you will definitely need an iPad with a cellular data connection, or tether it to your mobile connection to enable you to use the Waze app to its potential. After all to receive live information as you go this is essential. You will also need to sign up for a Waze account or use your Facebook account information to login. It is possible to use the Waze app as a guest but you will then forfeit the ability to save your information and get the most out of the app.
The interface of the app is extremely easy to use with the map taking up the bulk of the screen and simple icons to take you to settings screens, calculate your route and report instances such as traffic jams, police presence petrol prices or speed cameras.
As you drive you can see other Waze users displayed with small icons and it keeps your route calculated according to updates and traffic reports. A few issues that it does not show the speed limit for your road, or offer 2D or 3D lane assistance. If you tap the exclamation mark in the corner of the screen all local hazards will be displayed and for the most part, the real-time traffic report worked well. The voice prompts are a little quieter than ones I have been used to with other GPS apps, however this didn’t seem like a big deal. The app also crashed once or twice, but it did remember where I left off when I restarted it.
- Free GPS
- Easy-to-use interface
- Reports traffic and other incidents that can affect your journey
- Shows real-time activity
- Crashes occasionally
- Quiet voice prompts
- No speed limit or lane assistance displayed
- Reliant on other user data
The Waze app is completely dependent on other users contributing information so does not offer much help (aside from normal GPS services) when you are in an area with no Waze users, but aside from that and the other minor blips you cannot really ask for much more from a free app. It got me to where I needed to go whenever I used it, compared favorably against my TomTom and provided a plethora of useful information along the way. It was free and worked better than Apple Maps on my iPad and I will definitely continue to use it.