Google Maps Vs Waze: Better Navigation App to Get Around

September 22, 2021 Deepali Bhatia Software

On the way to a party in an unfamiliar location? Or, driving for a company that uses a rideshare app? Well, whatever the reason be, you need the right route and directions to be able to get where you want to be. Of course, you don’t want to be stranded and you want to reach the destination within the stipulated time. For most drivers, when it comes to choosing the best navigation app, the confusion is always between the two- Google Maps vs Waze. The app stores are flooded with countless navigation apps vying for drivers’ attention and waiting to be downloaded. Each app has its own sets of unique features and benefits, and the app you choose depends entirely on your preference.

Even if there is no dearth of navigation apps today, most users are thinking and comparing between the two most popular of all: Google Maps vs Waze. Drivers across the nation are debating which of the two is better – Waze or Google Maps?

Let’s dive deeper into this and understand the similarities and differences between the two apps and which one may be a better choice for you and why? To begin with, let’s get into the basics of both.

Google Maps vs Waze – An Overview

Before we compare the two, let’s understand both separately. 

Both Google Maps and Waze are owned by Google and both are global mapping apps suitable for Android as well as for iPhone. However, each platform has its user base. While both fall in the same category of navigation, users can easily distinguish both. Founded over a decade ago in 2005, Google Maps is the most popular and widely recognized/used app around. It has 130mn+ users compared to Waze in the United States alone.

The high-quality directions it provides make Google Maps the most preferred app in the category and a gold standard in the industry. It supports directions for biking, walking, driving, and public transportation as well. Now they are adding more features that are community-based in this app however it focuses on the huge mapping domination of Google.

On the other hand, Waze is an app focused purely on driving. Founded just a few years after Google Maps, Waze was acquired by Google Maps in just five years of its launch. This navigation platform is renowned for its heavily crowd/user-sourced approach. The app uses information driven by the community (users) about the traffic and road conditions. In sharp contrast to Google Maps’ traditional look & feel, Waze’s minimalist (somewhat funny) interface welcomes you as you open the app. 

Drivers are allowed to share real-time information and data about traffic accidents, speed traps, accidents, speed limits, and other useful trip information that are helpful for other drivers in navigating the fastest route possible.

Even if both the apps are competing so fiercely against each other, we should not forget that their parent company is the same: Google. Google had acquired Waze years ago for a little above a billion dollars. However, both the apps have been operating independently since then.

While both help you get where you want to, the approach is different. However, if you are more concerned about the functionality of the app, you must understand the difference between the two and study them carefully.

Google Maps vs Waze – The Differences

Despite serving the same purpose, both apps are different in many ways. So, let’s compare both to learn better!

Community-Based vs Data-Based

  • Waze is a community-based app ideal for cars, whereas Google Maps is data-based and suitable for driving, walking, biking, and directions for public transport. The built-in “explore” feature in both apps allow users to see reviews, events, points of interest, photos, etc. You can see things closely at street level with the help of the “street view” feature.
  • Waze cannot run without a data connection and Google Maps works offline as well. Google Maps includes hours, menus, phone numbers, and other business data whereas Waze doesn’t.
  • Waze provides real-time information like road hazards, real-time conditions of traffic, road closures, etc. based on user data. Google Maps, on the other hand, has just recently started to include a few of these features.
  • Google Maps has a traditional interface for navigation and Waze offers a minimal, sleek interface.
  • Waze is customizable and that includes celebrity voices as well whereas Google Maps has basic male and female voices.

In other words, Google Maps is a highly powerful yet very simple tool for navigation that chooses the most efficient and quickest routes for you. Waze, on the other hand, gathers input from users and utilizes that data for tailoring your tour experience, which gives you the most suitable route with no obstacles or nuisances.

Interfaces Comparison

  • The Waze interface is stylish yet minimal which is quite amazing in itself. You get all the details and the 3D graphics make it interesting. This app had targeted early tech adopters who liked a well-designed and sleek interface for coming onboard. The approach has been incredibly successful! Waze has integrated Spotify as well and the ability to locate the nearest gas station.
  • In comparison, Google Maps has a very simple interface. While it looks dull, the best part is it is dated and simple to use. It offers simple, clear directions to help drivers around. If we talk about the operations, then Waze shifts, changes locations, rotates, and even pans on changing directions. These are brash, bold directions on top of the app making it incredibly difficult to miss a direction. While driving, you will find the pins, potholes, traffic jams, speed traps, etc. that suddenly pop up and are easily avoided.
  • Google Maps is quite similar to Waze except being highly user-friendly. Google Maps moves but only when it is required. Google Maps offers directions and keeps sending you notices when you must take an action.

If we compare the two interfaces, Google Maps is better than Waze due to its simplicity.    

Real-Time Updates/Data

  • While it is still not clear how much data do the apps share, Google Maps and Waze do collect real-time data from users who are driving. Due to this, Waze and Google Maps offer accurate directions considering the traffic jams, road closures, etc. Your ETA must be accurate on Waze and Google Maps both. Waze shines here because of being crowd-sourced.
  • Users of Waze can add information about local street closures, road hazards, car accidents, etc. that is not possible with Google Maps (at least immediately). Hence, Waze offers additional accuracy in real-time.
  • Google Maps has built-in features for supporting user data in the last few years, they are still not as popular or commonly used. On the other hand, Waze emphasizes user reports right on its home page. But, that doesn’t imply Waze offers the best routes always.
  • Due to being dependent on user data, Waze is quite useful in major cities and may not be a great option for users in suburbs, rural areas, or smaller cities. So, we can say Waze wins in this category. The information Waze provides is more actionable as traffic jams and other issues on the roads are reported immediately in real-time.

Google Maps Vs Waze – Map Features

  • Google Maps and Waze offer amazing features, other than routing, to make your driving experience truly wonderful. Both these apps can provide information about the local speed limit, thereby helping you understand how fast you can drive. In addition, Waze allows users to report speed traps, so you can be sure to maintain your speed within the legally permitted speed limit before you cross such a trap. But, if you are looking for local destinations, I believe Google Maps is the best.
  • If you are looking for a local business address, Google Maps is the best as business pages, photos, user reviews, etc. are integrated into Google Maps. The app’s “street view” feature helps you ensure that you are reaching the right residence or storefront.
  • If you are searching for a gas station nearby, Waze can be your best guide. It includes real-time information added by users about gas prices, which means you can save money as well while getting a fill-up. Other than this, with Waze, you can request fellow Wazers to provide you roadside assistance. Amazing. Isn’t it? In other words, you don’t need to wait for your friend or the insurance company to take care of minor issues in your car, you can get quick help from someone who is driving nearby to assist you with a jump start your car or flat tire.

We use navigation apps either because we want to locate the address correctly or avoid getting late. The street view feature of Google Maps is cool in this regard.

Google Maps Vs Waze – Ease in Routing

While Google Maps and Waze share a lot of data, they have different algorithms that formulate different routes. It is mainly since Waze is built to help you reach your destination at the earliest, even if by just a few minutes. Waze can be a great help for you if you want to save time but due to the emphasis being on speed, you will have to travel through the harder and unpleasant routes.

  • Users of Waze frequently report unwanted U-turns, freeway exits, and turns. You may even be taken via alleyways to help you reach your destination faster. On the other hand, Google Maps provides logical suggested, alternate routes almost always without requiring you to sacrifice too much of your time. Also, you can get lane assistance and, therefore, you don’t miss a turn or an exit.
  • If you’ve got some passengers in your vehicle, Google Maps is the best and most consistent tool to help you ensure a wonderful ride experience minus the risk of being stranded. Else, the choice is yours! If you are happy with many and frequent turns, Waze can surely help you reach your destination faster and save time. But for me, Google Maps is the best for better routing and navigation.

Customizability Feature In Google Maps & Waze

  • When looking for a great experience designed just for you, in terms of navigation as well as features that are customizable, both apps allow you to choose to avoid tolls, freeways, connect with Spotify, and change the voice of navigation. But, Waze is surely the winner if customizability is your prime concern.
  • Other than Spotify integration, Waze supports several audio apps for listening to podcasts, audiobooks, music, and more. Furthermore, while Google Maps let you change between the languages and accents, Waze lets you enjoy navigation by choosing character and celebrity voice prompts as well. Great. Isn’t it?
  • More practically, Waze also lets you get the best routes and gas stations & price info specifically for your car type. All you need to do is add your vehicle information and Waze will determine whether you are eligible for commercial routes or carpool lanes. Waze, therefore, lets users choose to avoid unpaved roads which help them save their car tires.

So, I would say Waze is the best choice for those looking for the ability to customize.

Google Maps vs Waze: Data

  • Both the apps are heavily dependent on data but of the two Waze uses a lot of data. It is mainly because Waze has its operations built around information that users submit. The high volume of data is automatically collected just because you’re driving nearby another Waze app user. Also, users keep adding reports of accidents, road obstacles, hazards, etc. that eventually eats up more data.  
  • On the other hand, due to being a system/data-based app, Google Maps requires relatively less data to share information about road conditions as you drive your way to your destination.


No doubt, Google Maps has emerged as a highly comprehensive traffic navigation service in our comparison of Google Maps vs Waze. In sharp comparison to Waze, Google Maps has more information and more resources for users. Furthermore, it hardly matters how you want to reach where you are going, Google Maps has the right tools to assist you through.

On the other hand, Waze has limited navigation only for the drivers. However, it still offers services that Google Maps cannot match even today. This is why Waze is still a proud member of the Google family as a standalone navigation app.

As a driver, if reaching your destination at the earliest is your top concern irrespective of the route, then Waze should be your choice. However, if you are driving a bike or a car, Waze is the least useful and we would suggest you use your good old Google Maps Application. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):-

Waze vs Google Maps: which is better?

Waze has a larger army of followers who think the app is fantastic and appreciate its voice prompts function, however Google Maps appears to be more dependable, accurate, and has superior real-time traffic. Updates, on the other hand, caused problems for both apps.

Why does Waze outperform Google in terms of accuracy?

In a nutshell, Google Maps is a basic yet effective navigation tool that chooses the most direct and efficient route. Waze collects data from a variety of users and uses it to personalise your trip by showing you the most efficient route that is free of obstacles and other annoyances.

Is Waze Maps a Google property?

The Most Important Takeaways Waze is a user-generated navigation map programme that was purchased by Google (GOOG) in 2013.

What makes people choose Waze over other navigation apps?

Waze is designed with one goal in mind: to reduce your time on the road and get you to your destination as quickly as possible. So it doesn’t ask for permission to change your route in the middle of your journey, and it automatically provides directions to get you past any problems that may have arisen.

Is there anything that compares to Waze?

Google Maps, which is also free, is the best alternative. OsmAnd, Organic Maps, MAPS.ME, and HERE WeGo are some other outstanding Waze-like apps.

Are cops aware about Waze?

Waze’s police-tracking feature, which is one of the reasons for the app’s recent surge in popularity, alerts drivers to any near the area law enforcement vehicles and patrol activity, including such speed traps and sobriety checkpoints, giving them enough time to find alternate routes and possibly prevent these routine precautionary measures.

Is Waze able to keep cops at bay?

Waze users who report police sightings or speed traps can assist other drivers maintain a safe speed, preventing accidents and traffic citations. It is allowed to report police sightings on Waze in the United States, but this may not be the case elsewhere; if you want to use the programme outside of the US, check local regulations beforehand.


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