Driving with Friends

by Heather Keroes

Three hours on the turnpike.  My end goal:  turkey.  I knew where I was going, but I still programmed my drive into Waze, a traffic navigation app, to lead me to my Thanksgiving feast in South Florida.

I talk about Waze so much amongst my friends, that I’m probably suspect of working for them.  In my opinion, it simply is the best navigation app out there.  Sure, it takes you from point A to point B, but it also calculates traffic, tells me where I can find the best gas prices and it’s free, and it’s more reliable than Apple’s Maps.  But those aren’t the only reasons why I love Waze.  It’s also social and gamified.

As with any profile, I have a little avatar on Waze.  This avatar represents when I’m happy, sad or even ninja (because “ninja” is a mood apparently).  These avatars are only available to Wazers who have unlocked them by reporting accidents or speed traps, or by simply driving.

Waze has been getting some attention lately, with buzz over this past summer about a Facebook buyout.  There hasn’t been a buyout yet, but Facebook is well integrated with the Waze system, and that’s one way that it’s social.  By connecting with Facebook, I can see where my friends (who are also on Waze) are driving and schedule a meet up with them.  It’s kind of creepy when you think about it, but it’s a popular feature.

Since the app is free of charge, I’ve been wondering how it makes money.  Recently I’ve started noticing that every nearby Dunkin Donuts is clearly marked on the map and I’m sure that’s not because the developer loves doughnuts.

So what do you think?  Is the social nature of Waze more intrusive than a check-in on Facebook or Foursquare?  Would you want your friends to see where you are on the road at all times or do you like the idea of being able to stay connected with them while on the road?

One Response to Driving with Friends

  1. Roger says:

    Thanks, Heather, for turning me on to Waze. In a head-to-head matchup with a Garmin in Houston last weekend it was the clear winner … but that woman is going to get a bad reputation if she keeps riding in so many strangers’ cars.

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