Even though both Google Maps and Waze belong to the same company, namely Google, there are significant differences. The user interface of Waze is cartoonish and fun, while Google Map looks all too serious. But how they look isn't the most important thing here. The main concern here is: which app brings you to your destination faster, safer?
Which navigates better?
3 years ago, I would wholehearted recommend Waze over Google Maps, especially in Malaysia where construction work and road blocks happen all too often. The map in Waze is maintained by community, ie. you and me. I have personally signed up to the Waze Map Editor before and use it to add a newly constructed road right outside of my Taman. From then on, Waze knows how to use that shortcut instead of making me travel in circles.
That's the beauty of Waze. Local people know their way around best. One time, to avoid a bad traffic jam, Waze routed me through the parking lot of a commercial building! Bless whoever made that unconventional edit in the Waze Map. Because of all the collective knowledge provided by local people, Waze has always been very smart at suggesting routes using the roads less traveled. It almost always provide better routes, saving you tons of time. Google Map didn't do that, until it does.
Recently, I was supposed to attend an appointment during rush hours. Waze proposed several routes, all of which would take 50 minutes because of the traffic jam. That wouldn't do. So, in desperation, I checked Google Maps. I was pleasantly surprised that Google Map was able to find a 40-minute route. Since then, I have been checking routes using both apps, and find the Google Map has been performing on par with Waze, and occasionally better. Google has improved a lot, maybe by incorporating data from Waze, which is its subsidiary company.
But Waze warns you about hazards (and police road blocks)
While Google Maps does take real-time data from Waze and warn you about accidents, it still does not tell you about other hazards. This is where Waze truly outshines Google Maps. Users can report and confirmed incidents and help each other out. Be it hazardous flood, stopped cars on the road shoulder or shredded lorry tyres in the middle of the road, I have lost count how many time Waze (and kind-hearted Malaysian drivers) helped me to avoid disasters.
Perhaps for political correctness, Google Maps does not warn you about speed traps and police road blocks. If you are a 100% law-abiding citizen, these features in Waze probably mean nothing to you.
Google Maps integrates with Android better
You can create Google Maps shortcuts on your Android home screen. These shortcuts can point to any destination you select. Hence, you can route to your favorite destination in just one tap. This is very convenient. I don't understand why Waze developers do not include such a simple feature. All Waze provides is a home screen widget that shows you the time to reach home. It's very limiting.
By default, Google Assistant uses Maps to navigate. If you are as addicted to voice commands as I am, you would appreciate the ability to navigate just by uttering commands instead of typing. Waze has recently introduced some integration with Google Assistant, but it only works if you already has Waze open.
Winner: Google Maps
It's a tie. But you don't have to choose just one, fortunately. You can have both Waze and Google Maps installed. Both are excellent navigation apps. The key is know when to use what During non-rush hours, both apps offer similar routes. In this case, I tend to use Google Maps more often, because I can easily access my routes from my Android home screen. If it's 5pm, I wouldn't rely on just one app. I would check both for the best route.
However, if it's late night 1am, or when I'm traveling interstate, then safety is my utmost concern. That's when I would swear by Waze.
2021.03 published on ROGER