January 31, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
The Waze Android GPS app has a new look and a new live integration with social apps to better connect with events and happenings in an area.
The just-announced Waze 3.0 update has stripped down to a more minimalist UI that focuses on the road. The previous version of the app had more of a cartoonish look, but the map has been toned down slightly to display in a more traditional map view. (Fret not, it’s not all business.)
The cutesy icons from the top and bottom have been stripped and the core functions are now available through one of two buttons. Slide from left to right to search for an address, place, or person; see your favorites or search history; or do a voice search to trigger navigation. Tapping the left button brings up reports, My Waze section, and sharing to Facebook or email. Users can also slide right to left to send reports of traffic moderate, heavy, or standstill traffic jams. Tapping on the right button brings up the ability to report an accident, police presence, problems with a map or roadway, chat, or check in.
The “check in” is to Foursquare, which allows users to immediately check-in once they have arrived at the location. That is one of the ways in which Waze 3.0 imports social networks. Someone searching for “Chinese food” can see nearby restaurants, but that doesn’t tell users anything about food quality. Sliding the bottom bar on the results page can take a user to see Yelp star ratings for that establishment. It would be better if the app allowed users to actually go to the restaurant’s Yelp page to learn more about specific dishes, price, or atmosphere, but this is still a useful tool to have. Waze also has a Foursquare tab that shows how many people are checked-in to a venue and which locations have Foursquare specials.
Android 2.0 and higher users get more out of Waze 3.0. The app has a My Waze feature that keeps stats of how a user fares in the gamification/contest aspects of Waze, pre-programs Home and Work locations, and provides live feedback on the best routes to take when driving. The iPhone version has had these features for a few months, so here’s a quick video filmed by Robert Scoble showing how it works. You can download the Android version for free from the Android Market.