Whenever you get in your car to go someplace you’re not too familiar with, you probably use a GPS service like Apple Maps or Google Maps to get you to your destination. Or maybe you use Waze, another product offered by Google that relies less on data and more on crowd-sourced information to get you to your location the fastest.
What Is Waze and How Is It Different?
Waze is a free app you can download from either the App Store on iOS devices or the Google Play Store for Android devices. Like the other apps listed above, it will allow you to put in a destination and get map instructions for how to get there. It requires an internet connection either through Wi-Fi or mobile data.
Waze is built especially for those who are currently driving on the road and analyzes the information it gets from other drivers immediately to determine traffic conditions along your route. Because it’s community-driven, the more people that use it, the better it works.
Some people like Waze better because you are able to choose your route, and experts say it can get you to your destination more quickly. However, it does have drawbacks — it’s worse for trip planning if your trip includes walking, public transportation and other such ways of getting around. If there aren’t a lot of people traveling your route you won’t get good information.
Also, some people believe Waze uses more battery power than the other alternatives, but your mileage may vary. Of course, others think Waze is a bit more fun.
Interested in trying Waze? You’ve got places to be and people to see! Time to press “Go now” on your Waze app!
But before you do that … why not spend a few minutes upfront to make your driving experience better? Here are some quick and easy tips to customize your Waze settings before you go. Note that instructions might be slightly different depending on whether you have an iOS phone or an Android phone.
First of all, consider who’s directing you. You could listen to the perfectly acceptable default voice, or you could change the voice to someone more interesting. Life is short!
Wouldn’t you rather have Christina Aguilera tell you when to turn left? Or one of the Jonas Brothers? Or you might like one of the dozens of other options Waze offers, like “Zombie” or “70’s DJ” or “Gemini.” (Although that last one might not be very decisive.)
To change the person who’s giving you voice directions, click on the three lines in the upper left-hand corner. Go to Settings/Voice and sound/Waze voice. Scroll through the options, which are available in several languages.
While you’re changing the voice, you may as well change your avatar on the map. There’s no need to be an orange arrow. Choose your vehicle from a long list of options like The Tour Bus, Cloud Nine (hot air balloon), Woof wagon, or The Dazs Mobile (which is a Haagen Dazs ice cream truck). You can even be an Interoffice Memo if you like.
To change your vehicle icon, click Settings/ Map display/Car icon. Then, scroll through your options and choose one!
You can also let Waze know your actual vehicle type, so the GPS can direct you using the fastest ways to go for a private car, a taxi or a motorcycle. If you have an electric car or a small vehicle that doesn’t go off-road very well, you’ll want to use this setting for the most efficient route.
To change your vehicle type, go to Settings/Vehicle details/Vehicle type.
Now, you don’t want to get caught speeding in your Dazs Mobile. Luckily, you can set Waze to alert you if you go over the speed limit. While this has the potential to be annoying, you can tell Waze not to pipe up about this unless you’re going 5, 10 or 15 miles per hour over the limit. (Or instruct it based on percentages, telling it to only let you know if you’re going 15% over.)
To set a speeding threshold, go to Settings/Speedometer/Alert when speeding.
High-Occupancy Vehicle and Toll Passes
Is your car a taxi or a bus, or does it have a pass that lets you go through tolls quickly? Waze will direct you to the correct lane for the smoothest pass-through.
To let Waze in on your HOV pass status, go to Settings/Toll and HOV passes. Scroll through the list and select your pass.
If you want to listen to an app like Apple Music, Spotify or Audible without having to switch in and out of your GPS, Waze lets you control your music (or podcast or audiobook) right on the map screen.
To set up Waze to allow you to access audio apps, go to Settings/Audio player. Click Show on the map to the “on” position. Make sure the app you want to use is listed under “Available apps.”
You can also go to Settings/Voice and sound to tell Waze to play your sound to a phone speaker, which pauses music when directions or alerts come on. On iPhones, you can Pause spoken audio during voice directions as well.
Waze automatically reports all kinds of things, like speed cams, traffic jams, weather hazards and red light cameras. Generally, these reports are helpful, but if you find them distracting, you can turn each or all of them off.
To disable distracting reports, go to Settings/Map display/Reports. Scroll through the options and disable the ones you don’t want. To make a report, use the orange button on your navigation page; you can even call for roadside help this way.
Sometimes you don’t feel like dealing with highways, unpaved roads, tolls or difficult intersections. Just let Waze know, and it will guide you around them.
To set your driving preferences, click on Settings/Navigation. Select what you’d like to avoid.
You probably noticed that Waze shows you gas stations along your route, but did you know you can ask it to show them to you by price or preferred gas type?
To ask Waze to show you the nearest gas station by price or brand, go to Settings/Gas stations/Sort stations by. Choose price, distance or brand. And by the way, if you do a search at the bottom of your navigation page for “gas stations,” you get prices, too.
Now it’s time to hit the road!