Navigation App Redesigned – Less Cluttered & Adds Traffic-Based Reminders

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Google overhauls Waze with first major update since the app was acquired.

The Google-owned mapping company released version 4.0 of its iOS app Monday, but a comparable version for Android smartphones won’t be out for a few weeks.Waze Version 4.0, released Monday for iOS and expected to arrive on Android soon, brings a simplified interface with less clutter, a new feature that will help you leave on time for Calendar events, and battery life improvements. “After installing Waze, you’ll immediately notice a newer, cleaner design that makes for easier navigation, reporting, and sharing — you might call it a brand new Waze experience,” the Google-owned company wrote in a blog post. “Now, it takes [fewer] taps to access many of Waze’s key features.” Just tap the button in the lower left corner of the app to pull up the navigation menu, including all your frequent and favorite destinations.

The Google-owned navigation app Waze has a number of standout features – its ability to alert you to traffic conditions and speed traps, and re-route you around traffic jams, for example – but its user interface was not one of its better qualities. Developed in Israel, Waze is the navigation app that uses crowdsourced traffic data to show drivers the fastest routes and warn them about incidents on the road. In short, there’s more of a focus on the driver and on what Waze calls the “social driving experience.” Over the years, Waze has made a series of updates aimed at simplifying its app, but while the app provided a useful service, some were been concerned that it wasn’t conducive to use while driving.

A group of my friends were trying to meet in the San Fernando Valley at this very moment, so I fired up the Google Transit app for a little thought experiment. The big orange button on the map will bring up a redesigned reporting menu, where you can report accidents, traffic, gas prices, road hazards, issues with the map, and more. The last time the company rolled out a significant update was three years ago, with improved guidance interface and the addition of text-to-speech capabilities. Commuting from downtown LA to the Valley in a timely manner was pretty much impossible until they reopened the 101 Freeway—Waze said it would be an hour on an alternate route.

The new app is certainly much cleaner than before, requiring fewer taps in order to start a drive, send locations, and get directions to your destination. The app sports a new look that shortens the amount of screen taps needed to access key features such as reporting incidents and sharing an estimated time of arrival.

And the map interface has also been given a face-lift so that it shares similar design qualities with the maps product of its Google-turned-Alphabet owners. For someone who uses it regularly, considering transit is given, but despite having the second-largest system in the country and a very visible branding campaign, Angelenos sometimes need a reminder that transit is even an option: One friend who checked Waze had already resigned herself to the drive until I showed her my math, and she went underground instead. Just sync your calendar with the app and make sure to add a street address to your event locations and Waze will watch out for traffic and tell you when to hit the road. Instead of a modern, clean aesthetic, Waze previously relied on a couple of menus – one with a cartoon-ish car icon to access the main menu, and the other map pin-shaped icon with an exclamation point in the middle for reporting incidents. Other updates include faster ways to send notification to the community about issues like accidents, objects blocking the road, and road closures, as well as an easier way to send your ETA to friends.

But it shows you how much Angelenos—at least 1.3 million of them, according to Waze—not only rely on this app but trust it to tell them exactly what to do. By connecting to social media networks and people’s calendars, Waze also simplifies the process of pulling up addresses and letting others check in on your trip progress. The traffic and navigation app already has real-time incident reports incorporated into Google Maps, but this new version will give drivers a much better experience when trying to get around town. But the redesigned interface is only part of what’s being hyped on today’s Waze update, which is already available on iOS with a Android coming soon.

Waze has been tweaking its software to reduce the number of suggestions to make an “L.A. left” or “Waze left” — crossing the wide, multilane roads that are particularly found in Los Angeles. Now, if you sync your calendars with addresses plugged in for your appointments, Waze will tell you according to real-time traffic when you should leave. It’s frankly just sort of silly to see cars with bows on their head, or pacifiers in their mouth, or wearing little crowns in an app aimed at adults old enough to drive a car.

Because Waze already shows things other mapping apps don’t have – like the other cars and graphics like ads for business as little road signs – it needs to be even more careful about what other buttons should appear. If the goal is truly to reduce vehicular congestion—and Waze has said in the past that this is why they’re sharing their data with cities—then Waze should also provide an option that gently suggests you might want to become part of the solution by getting out of your car (or incinerating your car, whichever fits best). This latter item is positioned to the left and sort of up near the middle of the screen, though Apple and Google Maps put this feature closer to the bottom of the screen. Plus, when you tap on the screen, tons of other buttons appear, including the compass, sound toggle, zooming feature, and when at a particular zoom level, your location finder. And there’s no need to flag how many new messages you have and add a red dot to indicate you have unread mail – this could all be handled with a push notification and red icon badge on your iOS homescreen.

Moovel, a route planning app that’s not yet available in the US, integrates this information particularly nicely into a robust tool, and even has a calorie-burning comparison for active transportation methods. I’ve long been jealous of Waze’s social features: I love how easy it is to send real-time geolocated tracking updates to a friend, which would be great for walking or biking.

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