Waze is one of the most popular navigation apps in the world. By the end of 2020, it had over 140 million monthly active users. That number has certainly grown, as more and more people find it reliably more useful than more household maps like Google and Apple Maps.
Here’s a short Waze usage guide.
What do those Waze icons and symbols mean?
Spotlights or cameras mean red light cameras.
Crash icon means there is an accident ahead.
Triangle warning sign means there is some hazard in the area
What are those little icons in Waze?
The little icons you see may be referring to ‘moods’. These are a way to express yourself to other Waze users on the road. That means the icons you see are what those Wazers around you have selected. The same case applies to you.
Among them are Cat, Dog, LOL, Cool, Shy, Happy, In Love, Peaceful etc.
How to change your Waze icon
You are probably interested in changing your Waze public mood. This is the icon other nearby drivers will see.
To change it, open your Waze options list. Then tap on the magnifying glass in the bottom left corner of the screen, then tap on your name. Scroll until you find ‘Mood’. Select the one you want.
How to use Waze handsfree when driving
You can use Waze handsfree when driving, in order not to get distracted. This option is available using voice commands, via Google Assistant.
You need to turn on Google assistant for both your device and Waze.
Inside the Waze app, go to My Waze, then Settings. Tap Voice & sound and then Google Assistant. Confirm by tapping Got it.
By saying ‘Ok Google’, you can now ask the assistant to guide you in your Waze navigation.
Among drive actions you can ask for are:
- “Take me home”
- “Drive to work”
- “Navigate to” and then say the name of a business or address
- “Find gas stations”
- “Find restaurants”
- “Find parking”
- “Stop navigation”
- “Show alternative routes”
- “Show route overview”
- “Show turn by turn directions”
- “Recenter the map”
You can also take reporting actions to help other drivers, like:
- “Report traffic”
- “Report [moderate, heavy, standstill] traffic”
- “Report a crash”
- “Report a [major, minor] crash”
- “Report police”
- “Report hazard”
- “Report flood”
- “Report construction”
- “Report object”
- “Report broken traffic light”
- “Report pothole”
- “Report stopped vehicle”
- “Report stopped vehicle on shoulder”
You can also adjust settings with your voice, like:
- “Turn on / off voice directions” (Affects Waze voice navigation directions only)
- “Allow tolls / Avoid tolls”
- “Allow highways / Avoid highways”
How to know the speed limit of a road on Waze
While driving, you can activate speed limit alerts by going to Waze settings.
Tap speedometer, then turn on ‘Show speedometer’.
The speedometer will now appear on your map as you navigate. Anytime you reach the maximum speed limit of an area, the speedometer will turn red and give you an alert.
You can customize your alerts to show: only when exceeding the speed limit, always show the speed limit or not to show at all.
You can also opt to play a sound alert when you reach the speed limit.
What does ‘Ticket Alert’ mean on Waze
This is an alert you receive once you exceed the speed limit. The alert can be just visual (speedometer turns red) or also include a sound alert. This depends on your customization.
You can also customize to alert to only appear at certain points, in this case; when the speed limit is reached, or when it is exceeded b 5%, 10% or 15%.
How to change from kph to mph on Waze
In the Waze app, tap the magnifying glass, followed by the gear wheel on the top left.
Here, you will find settings under ‘General’. You’ll now be able to change the unit of measure (kph/mph), and even language.
Does Waze automatically reroute?
Yes, Waze will continuously update your route depending on things that are happening in real time. With the vast network of Google users, Waze has a pretty accurate real-time understanding of things on the road, and is known to re-route more aggressively than even Google Maps, in order to get you to your destination in the shortest time possible.
How to see speed traps in Waze
In areas with known fixed speed cameras, Waze may be able to alert you when you are in their vicinity. If you are driving over the speed limit in an enforced area, you’ll get both an alert on the map and a voice alert that a speed camera is up ahead.
This will not work with random, mobile speed traps.
How to turn Waze off when not using it
A really important reason you would want to turn Waze off after completing your journey, instead of letting it run in the background, is battery conservation. Waze is notorious for draining batteries.
The best way to turn Waze off is inside the app. At the very bottom of the app, tap the blue arrow sitting right there, and a menu with the STOP option will open. Tap it and the app will cancel navigation.
However, you will still need to close the app in order to ensure it is no longer draining your battery in the background.
On iPhone, swipe up slowly from the bottom until the app switcher appears, then swipe up on Waze window to close it.
On Android, tap the recent apps option and shut down Waze. This is usually located on the bottom of the home screen. In most Androids, it is the 3 lines either on the left of the right.
Is Waze Owned by Google?
Yes, Waze is owned by Google, having being bought in 2013 for a cool $1.2 billion. It was an Israeli start-up.
It may seem strange that Google operates two navigation apps, but there is actually a difference. Waze is only a traffic app, while Google Maps is a full-blown multi-purpose app that can show you places to eat, entertainment areas, events, activities near you etc.
Which is better Waze or Google Maps?
This totally depends on what you want in a navigation app. Waze tends to have a loyal following among certain quarters, but these are people who only use it for traffic navigation. Indeed, since Waze is only a traffic app, an argument can be made that it does that better than Google Maps.
Sharing the same owner however means that their operations are very similar in most circumstances.
That said, there are instances where Google Maps can be better or more complete than Waze. For instance if you are looking for events to attend to.
So, this is a purely subjective question.
In terms of usability, Waze has a higher score (4.1) on Google Play, than Google Maps (3.8).
Even on the App Store, Waze gets a cool 4.9, while Google Maps gets a 4.7.
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