The news last week was abuzz with Google’s latest $1 billion acquisition of crowd source navigation application WAZE. Bloomberg.com had this to offer – “Google needs to maintain supremacy in maps, as they are a key to mobile advertising,” Andrew Frank, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said in an e-mail. “They need more ways to shore up their social efforts.”
I started using Waze last summer. The application was clean, worked well and I liked it quite a bit. The crowd-sourced traffic aspect is valuable a real-time feature although I wonder how solo drivers might share or view the consistently updated information. Shouldn’t their eyes be on the road? As a passenger using Waze it was great to be able see travel times, traffic on the routes, construction projects on the road and even weather conditions.
There was however a big problem and the problem was Waze was (and still is I suspect) one of the all-time battery hogs I’ve ever seen when it comes to mobile applications. I don’t see any news that this dirty little secret has been addressed in any way. Find a power source is not what most people have in mind. It’s understandable that any GPS application is power hungry to a certain degree. But in order for Waze to truly become ubiquitous, this problem will have to be rectified – at least to a degree. Consequently I am not using it at present.
Think for a moment about stand-alone navigation units like Magellan, Tom-Tom, and Garmin. Waze can and likely will render stand-alone units obsolete. Google Maps and MapQuest have tried yet have fallen short. While the stand-alone units are portable in that they can be moved from vehicle to vehicle, they are not designed to be carried around as one would a smartphone.
Google has promised to not fiddle with the Waze platform and to maintain both Google Maps as well as Waze. I expect that eventually they will be merged into a single application once the battery hog problem has been addressed.
If you don’t have a GPS navigation device and have only used Google Maps, MapQuest or some other map service, give Waze a try. Just keep the power cord handy.
And please share what you think of Waze. Any good tips on how to extend the battery life when using it would be very welcome.