Earlier this week, Google Inc. completed a deal that brings Israel-based crowd-sourced mapping and navigation app, Waze, to their fold for $1 billion, away from rivals Apple and Facebook.
What makes Waze a unique navigation app is that real-time traffic and road status information is possible since it is crowd-sourced from the Waze community in the area. Once you start using Waze for your turn-by-turn navigation, you already contribute to the traffic situation in your area based on the speed you are going. It’s a very useful tool especially here in Manila where roads are often congested from traffic or road works.
It’s also a powerful navigation tool since locations and points of interests are gathered from various sources including Foursquare, another crowd-sourced location app.
According to Google’s Vice President for Geo, Brian McClendon, this acquisition aims to enhance Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze, and in turn, enhance Waze with Google’s search capabilities.
Waze CEO, Noam Bardin, assures the Waze community that the brand, service and organization, responsibilities, and processes will remain the same.
It’s still unclear whether Google plans to fully absorb Waze into its own mapping service or keep it as a separate product.
Waze is a free app that works on both Android and iOS.