Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check h Paul Sawers was a reporter with The Next Web in various roles from May 2011 to November 2014. Follow Paul on Twitter: @psawers or check him out on Google+.
Community-powered road navigation app Waze has just launched version 3.5, and we can report it has had a major lick of paint, and incorporates a slew of very cool new features for collaborative way-finding.
Just to recap, Waze is a community-driven application that learns from users’ driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. It’s crowdsourced satellite navigation. Back in January, we reported that it had hit the 10m user milestone, before passing 20m users in July. With more than two million users joining each month, we’re told the company has now surpassed 28m users globally.
Its latest updates include a new estimated time of arrival (ETA) feature, which lets you see friends driving to your destination in real-time, where they have parked and even share how your own drive is coming along.
It also includes information on toll roads, with a private messaging feature and a save-your-parking location function.
A very interesting new feature includes pick-up requests, meaning you no longer have to explain where you are when looking to scoop a ride home – requests can be sent to instantly grab a location and navigate directly there, while Facebook single sign-on lets drivers log into Waze with their Facebook account.
“We may be alone in the car, but most of the time it’s only because we’re on our way to meet others at work or at home, or out to join up with friends,” says Yael Elish, VP Product and Marketing at Waze.
“It’s only natural to be better-informed about the location and timing of those you are about to meet or pick up, and be able to share the same info back with them. With this version, Waze takes drivers out of the dark, re-imagining everyday driving as a much smoother experience.”
Along with new features, the updated app has built-in privacy controls, which let you “go invisible” on the map at any time.
Waze 3.5 also has a whole new redesigned set of maps, moods, and interface, and it’s looking beautiful.
Overall, a really awesome update to Waze, and this should go some way towards broadening its appeal beyond those simply looking to bypass traffic jams. It’s already building its database of petrol stations too, letting users identify where they can find the cheapest fuel.
Is Waze becoming the ultimate driving app? For me, Google Maps’ built-in satnav on Android is hard to beat, but I can see more and more people turning to Waze as it continues to ramp up its feature-set, and certainly for iOS users, Waze could be the number one go-to.
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