Nowadays, many drivers plan their daily routes using apps such as Waze. And it’s easy to see why that is, considering how much it enhances the driving experience. A few of Waze’s features include enhanced Google Assistant integration, lane suggestions, and traffic notifications. All these give drivers an accurate visual representation of their trip, how long it will take, and when they’ll encounter traffic.
If you’re considering a real-time navigation app as your next project, Waze can serve as inspiration. But developing such an app is also complex and costly, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
A Brief History Of Waze
Waze has roots dating back to 2006 as a community project known as FreeMap Israel. The project introduced a free-to-use digital database and map of Israel. And its enthusiastic and growing community of users contributed significantly to its early success. In 2008, Waze was established as a company to commercialize the project.
The company then raised $25 million in 2010 and $35 million in 2011. And after updating the app, it presented users with curated points of interest in real-time. And in 2012, Waze offered advertisers and resellers the opportunity to advertise via a web interface. It also extended this opportunity to news networks in the US and Brazil.
All that hard work and growth did not go unnoticed. In 2013, the GSM Association awarded Waze the Best Overall Mobile App. But the good fortunes of the company didn’t end there. In June 2013, Google acquired Waze for the princely sum of $966 million.
The acquisition drew attention from the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) due to the similarities between Waze and Google Maps. However, the FTC did not challenge the acquisition, and it went through successfully.
Key Features Of Waze
What makes Waze stand out is its effective collection and dissemination of crowdsourced information. However, it doesn’t rely solely on the information provided by users but also from the relevant state agencies.
So what type of information is reported to Waze? Usually, information about construction work and traffic events, likely to hinder travel. In some cases, users may report the locations of traffic monitoring cameras to warn other drivers. Furthermore, registered users may alter map data using the app’s built-in editor.
But the range of features has grown significantly over the years. It’s possible to choose a navigation app voice from celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, DJ Khaled, and Kevin Darnell Hart, to name a few. Users can also record their voices to serve as navigation prompts.
Moreover, Waze introduced trip suggestions, lane guidance, and specialized routes. The app isn’t limited to car drivers but also accommodates motorcyclists and those using carpools.
More importantly, Waze has partnered with popular apps, media networks, and services. Users enjoy additional functionality due to Waze’s integration with the following:
- Android Auto
- Apple CarPlay
- Google Assistant
- NPR One
- YouTube Music
Similarities And Differences To Google Maps
Google Maps and Waze are both owned by Google and may seem very similar. But given the strong branding and market positioning of Google Maps, most users will opt for this particular navigation app. However, we need to look at both apps in more detail to appreciate what makes each unique.
- Advertising: Waze displays banner ads every time drivers come to a stop. These ads tend to distract and not to everyone’s tastes. Alternatively, Google Maps takes a more subtle approach by displaying small square icons on the map of businesses that have paid to advertise.
- Data collection: Both apps collect a plethora of data about road conditions and traffic events. But Waze relies on user-submitted information, whereas Google Maps taps into a wider pool of information, including historical data.
- Navigation: Waze always tries to find the most efficient and quickest route to the destination. Alternatively, Google Maps will suggest the most eco-friendly and safest route instead.
- Public transportation: Waze caters to drivers and not those using public transport. On the other hand, Google Maps greatly helps public transport users, cyclists, hikers, and pedestrians.
- Road hazard and traffic notifications: An area where Waze truly shines is notifying drivers about upcoming road hazards and traffic. As long as enough users have reported these incidents, Waze will find the best route around them. However, Google Maps seldom provides a similarly time-saving route.
- User interface (UI) design: Since both apps are Google products, they have good UI design. Waze has a cartoony appearance with a simple UI since it’s aimed primarily at drivers. Google Map’s UI is a bit more complex as it doesn’t only cater to drivers but also businesses.
Cost Of Development
It’s possible to start creating a compelling navigation app with several core features and the right development partner, such as NS804. Here’s what features you’ll need to have basic functionality:
- Authorization and user profile: It’s crucial to allow users to log in via their emails and social media accounts. Thus, it’s necessary to implement an integration pipeline with the Facebook SDK and Twitter Kit, at the very least.
- Camera functionality: The app must work flawlessly with the cameras and file systems on both Android and iOS. Users will want to take photos of traffic incidents and store them on their devices or share them with other users.
- Chat and user reviews features: Users will want to chat with other users, leave reviews and ratings about rides, and share road trip information with others on social media. All these features will require backend development to store and retrieve data on a server. Additionally, further social media integrations will be necessary.
- Geolocation mapping and navigation: Geolocation determines a user’s location, while navigation allows the user to pick the destination. It’s essential to integrate with Apple Maps (iOS only), Google Maps, and Mapbox Maps SDK to make this work.
- Voice assistant: It’s potentially dangerous for drivers to look at the navigation map while driving. Therefore, it’s better to offer navigation coordinates by voice with API.AI, Google Cloud API, and Google Maps Directions API.
The cost of a basic navigation app with the above features will range between $40,000 and $60,000 and take four to six weeks to develop. But you’ll likely need additional features such as machine learning (ML), ridesharing, planned driver, Spotify, and ad integrations in the long run. As you add these features, expect development costs to reach $150,000 and beyond.
Development And Maintenance Considerations
Developing and maintaining a navigation app is a massive undertaking. After all, it relies heavily on data collection and sharing relevant data in real-time. And it must allow users to post photos of traffic jams and other road incidents. But it must also integrate with social media and a wide range of apps to increase its functionality.
Then, to drive further engagement, the app may need gamification features. Waze offers a ranking system, incentivizing users to score points and gain a high position on the scoreboard. Thus, users can compare their level and score with their friends and other Waze users.
Since app development is an ongoing process, it won’t be necessary to roll out all features from day one. But it’s crucial to maintain and update the app at a regular cadence for the best results. As we’ve seen with Waze, it was a project that started life over 15 years ago and then gradually introduced new features and partnerships.
The Bottom Line
Waze is a prime example of how indispensable and life-changing the navigation app is in people’s lives. It’s not cheap to develop and maintain such an app, but it’s a worthwhile endeavor for developers and appreneurs that see the big picture and how lucrative it can be in the long term. Contact NS804 to find out how we can help you develop phenomenal navigation apps that will empower your users.