Waze, inadvertently tested, won big last night

I typically want to take the quickest way between points A and B, but when Waze or other GPS apps route me differently it’s hard to actually know that I was indeed better off following it, or not. Last night Waze saved us 30 minutes, it took us 1:30 versus 2hrs for our kids.

Wife and I went to dinner last night in Santa Cruz CA with our 3 adult kids, who’d driven separately. After dinner we all were going to Sunnyvale, usually 35 miles and 45 minutes away. The kids left 5 minutes ahead of us in one car, and then we left. I know the way, but have gotten used to always using Waze, just in case something unexpected occurs along our route.

Waze routed us in a way I wasn’t aware of, seemingly wildly out of our way. We decided to follow Waze, thinking we’d enjoy the scenic route through the Santa Cruz Mountains, through the towns of Ben Lomond, Brookdale, and Boulder Creek. It took us 1:30 to get to Sunnyvale and we were half expecting to see the kids’ car in the driveway, but they were not there.

gMap, here is the usual, direct way; the kids took this way — https://is.gd/mZxUP4

gMap, the way Waze routed us — https://is.gd/jOVUnt

They arrived 30 minutes later, due to bad traffic. A significant difference.

I don’t use Waze, but I swear by Google Maps. I even turn it on when I’m coming home inthe middle of the night. Saved me 40 minutes once at 2:00 am.

I prefer Google Maps for two reasons. One, it will show me what lane to be in when I get near an intersection or, better yet, a freeway exchange. Two, Waze seems to have a very strong social media aspect to it that is a distraction to actually driving. ( Three: Hi Opal!)

Waze may have changed those things since I stopped using it, but heck yeah, follow the directions given and you can sometimes save a lot of time.

Waze will sometimes only rote a small amount of traffic to a alternate route, to they don’t overload it and jam that up too. Your kids may not have gotten the alternate even if they used Waze.

I only follow weird routes if it looks like real bad traffic. Google maps sometimes sends you down a bunch side roads and crap to save you 3 minutes.

I’ve had a smartphone for less than a year. I’ve downloaded 2 apps: Spider Solitaire and Waze. I’ve used Waze now and again, but am not sure I’m getting the most from it.

First of all, I sometimes see little colored icons along the route. Not the Policeman or the construction crews or whatever, but the little Waze mascot icon (?)–like a little ghost? White ones, green ones, blue ones. I think one is holding a sword? I’ve clicked around the app for a icon key and can’t make heads or tails of what these little smiling ghost things mean.

Also, if I see a police car or accident, I know I can send a “report.” But the one time I tried to do that…well, it takes two hands for me to hold the phone and then click the button and then try to find the right icon for the incident…and (almost) WHAM! I just about rear-ended the guy ahead of me while I was trying to make the report. I must be missing something obvious. Sending a report while driving is a BAD idea (maybe get a passenger to do it?), and by the time I figure out how to report that speed trap, I’m already a mile down the interstate. That’s not helpful.

Any other tips and tricks? Help me get the most out of my Waze!

Thanks for asking this … was kind of wondering the same thing. I guess passengers do most reporting?

Also: how does one use Waze on a smartphone while driving? Is it the kind of thing where you have to be actively using a GPS system in your vehicle, and that system would preferably be integrated in some way with one’s phone? Or can dash-installed GPS systems (either stock or aftermarket) run smartphone-type apps on them – so that one could use Waze in a GPS-equipped vehicle even without a smartphone?

EDIT: Wanted to ask also: Is Waze of any use whatsoever if one is not using a GPS system in their car?

Well, probably for most people they’re checking their smartphone and listening for the verbal directions provided by Waze on their phone. If you have a new(er) car equipped with Apple CarPlay or the Android equivalent then your smart phone integrates to your LCD screen system in the vehicle so you can see Waze there vs. having to actually look at your phone. That is one feature I wish my vehicle had. It became available on the next year’s model and the dealer won’t upgrade the entertainment system to include it which is total b.s.

Using something like Google Maps or Waze in your vehicle is independent of using a built-in GPS system in the vehicle. I prefer to use Google Maps or Waze as it is much faster, easier to use, and does better routing than my built-in GPS system which requires dealer-installed map updates at a fee. (Probably one of several reasons dealers won’t upgrade entertainment systems perfectly capable of supporting Apple CarPlay. Force the car owner to either buy map upgrades, buy a new model of the same vehicle, or keep having to try and look at your smartphone while driving).

That is a nice drive, especially on weekends when everyone else is coming back on 17 after a day at the beach. Plus you get to avoid all the crazy people riding your bumper and swerving from lane to lane as they attempt to get home a few minutes sooner.

Obligatory link :smiley:

In some situations, your Waze app may not pick your fastest route home, but may be directing you and other drivers using Waze on different routes to reduce overall congestion in the city.

Waze has different programming algorithms if you are using its app within the boundaries of a municipality it is under contract with.

I believe the interactive elements of Waze (as well as Google Maps and others) are useful if you are using a car mount for the phone, which puts the phone in a position where it can be viewed and manipulated as if it was part of your dashboard. I don’t currently have one, so I prefer Google Maps due to its minimal input requirements. That said, if I ever do get around to installing a mount, I might give Waze another go.

Those are other Waze users. They have no practical use, other than letting you know there are other Waze users nearby. You can turn it off in the settings. You can toggle all sorts of stuff to appear/not appear on the map.

It’s easier if you aren’t driving and holding your phone at the same time. Get a vent mount. I’ve found the magnetic ones work best for me, like this one: https://www.amazon.com/TechMatte-Magnetic-Phone-Mount-Universal-Holder/dp/B00OJE1SG8/

I would just suggest you explore the settings menus. There’s all kinds of stuff you can customize, like what the map looks like, what appears on the map, navigation preferences (tolls, ferries, freeways, HOV, difficult intersections), audio options, you can even set what type of gasoline you use and what national-brand station you prefer, if any.

It is! And now I know. Last night was the first time I went that way. Even though it was dark and there were some tight corners, overall it looked like it would be a very pleasant route. We’ve been stuck in that beach traffic too many times. I told my wife this morning that even if stuck in the normal beach traffic on 17 it’d take us 1:00 or 1:15 in traffic, I still might opt for that scenic route that’s a little longer but MUCH more pleasant.

I too suggest using a mount. I got a Ram mount with suction cup for the window. I mount it such that the phone and the car’s A pillar are aligned. If a cop wants to issue a ticket for the phone blocking my view, I’ll try discussing with him/her about that alignment, and hopefully that’ll be enough to avoid a ticket.

The ram mount is a little bulkier than other types of mounts but I know it’ll work in any rental car that I use, and also in my old classic 1963 car.

???
How is that even relevant, let alone obligatory?

All I can say is that if taking 9 was faster than 17, that must have been some really ugly traffic.

It gets worse. BMW will charge owners of its 2019 models (after the first year of ownership and on all model years from now on) an $80/year subscription fee simply to access any CarPlay functionality at all.

My kids will attest to that.

I could not see any bad traffic before I diverted to Waze’s suggestion, so it was with some blind faith that I agreed to follow it.

For Android, you can also run Android Auto on your phone without connecting it to the in-dash screen. So, with a dash mount and a Bluetooth connection, you have similar functionality as if it was the in dash screen. I use Waze this way, and it works well. If you set it up, you can do lots of things by voice.