Daily App Review: Waze - GPS & Traffic (iOS And Android)Yes, we have maps and we have step-by-step navigation. But getting traffic details remains a pain in India. Unless you happen to be using Waze.
GPS and its allied mapping software have been around in India for a while, but as any person who has sampled a traffic jam in the nation will tell you, it is not "getting there" that's a problem in many Indian cities, but what actually lies in the path. For, traffic blues are a recurrent theme rather than the occasional happening in most large Indian cities. And so far, most GPS devices, be they smartphones or PNDs are not able to give users an idea of just what lies on the path they are following.
This being 2012, of course there is an app for that. And what's more, it is free. It is called Waze and as of now, it is now available for iOS, Android, Symbian and BlackBerry.
We, however, have used it only on the iPhone 4S and the HTC Desire HD and so will be limiting our observations to those two versions. In simplest terms, Waze is a social network of travellers, but we are not talking of the touristy type of travellers but the more routine ones, the types who drive to work every day or have to go about town time and again on a host of errands. And while yes, you can sit around and chat with others using the network, what REALLY makes the software rock is the fact that one can post "reports" of things occurring on popular routes and locations. So if you see a traffic jam on a route, you can actually report it and it will be seen by other people using the app.
All of which is not exactly a rock-solid way of finding out the mess the traffic is in, but is a decent enough indicator of what lies on the road ahead, especially if you are using a route that is popular. And before you ask, yes, it does work very well in India. We tried it out on a number of routes in Delhi and were surprised at the number of notifications and reports we kept getting about traffic problems and snags.
Of course, we had no way of knowing which of these were accurate and which were "fabricated"--this is very much an app that depends on the authenticity of the information being given out by those using it. Yes, it has to be admitted that accuracy and information started dipping the moment we went on to lesser known routes or to the outskirts of a city or in the case of non-metropolitan cities (we made a friend in Jaipur to try it out and she said she hardly got any reports, even though the roads were a mess). Still, it sure beat switching on the FM and hoping that the RJ would talk about traffic conditions on the route we were taking in Delhi. It also comes with Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare integration, so you can share information across those networks and even work on building up a ranking on the Waze network if you wish--it is a function of the number of reports you make.
The app is versatile enough to be used as a navigation tool too, although we must confess that we were not too impressed by its performance in that particular regard. However, we are not complaining. If you are living in one on India's larger cities and own an Android phone or an iPhone, this is one of those apps you simply must download and switch on every time you go for a drive in the city. Do not expect the world, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Available from: http://www.waze.com/Price: Free--Nimish Dubey