One thing that we all face in Nairobi is traffic, not unless you walk to your workplace or school, you’ll definitely experience the wrath of Nairobi traffic. Now that we know you cannot avoid it, how can you outsmart it? Well Waze promises to help you with that. As you can recall, we talked about Waze being launched in Kenya slightly over a week ago and promised to share what we’d make of it. Waze, was a Israeli startup bought by Google in 2013. Google partnered with Safaricom to launch Waze in Kenya. It is a direct competitor with our already existing traffic reporting application, Ma3Route but with distinct differences.
I decided to put Ma3Route aside and try out Waze and here are a few things that stood out for me;
Once you open Waze app, you are get a map, showing your location. There are various floating buttons on display. The button on the lower left hand side has a menu where you can access navigation, send your ETA to a friend, your profile and inbox. On the right, there is a button that allows the user to report various things on the road from traffic jams, police sightings, accidents, map issues, road closure and so on. It is a good UI that works. Furthermore, all these features are easy to access, especially when driving.
Other than Waze being a community based mapping and traffic app, it also offers navigation. Picking your current location as a starting point, it calculates the ETA to your desired destination and draws up the fastest route to your destination. It uses data received from other Wazers who have the app running to estimate time of arrival and show roads that heavy with traffic. Furthermore, you have the option of voice navigation with interesting options. You can have the normal Amy, or Nathan but there is also the option of Arnold Schwarzenegger or Colonel Sanders, which I have to admit are kinda funny!
In my opinion, navigation was on point other than one time where it actually suggested I cross over to the other side of the road without considering #KideroGrass or the lack of an actual road. The ETA was pretty accurate as it adjusts to changes in traffic. This works well because of the use of real time data.
Clearly, Waze will rival Ma3Route in traffic management. As much as Ma3Route has a wide base of users and is very social (I miss that in Waze), Waze makes more sense as a driving companion. Being a community based application, you can chat with other Wazers and get more information about the roads. With many users on Waze, this could bring a social aspect to it.
Additionally, you do not need to scroll down a long list of tweets to get information about your road, Waze will customize updates to your route. It offers visuals on the intensity of traffic so that you can make an informed decision. Again, using Waze, you do not need to leave the app in order to be directed to your destination as with Ma3Route. Everything you need is within the app which makes life easier when driving.
You earn points on Waze for various things such as reporting about traffic or road closures. Since you can connect Waze to Facebook, it can show you how you rank among your friends and among other Wazers globally.
Waze will run in the background even when you leave the app, so when you get to your destination, remember to exit the application.
With all that in mind, I did at times find myself looking back at Ma3Route, just to get more information and pictures and lets be honest, some tweets and reports are just plain funny. Ma3Route have something that they can work on in order to improve their service, but personally Waze wins it for me. Any Wazers out there? What’s your experience?