Thanks to Waze, the popular Israeli mapping app Google bought for a reported $1.1 billion, Google's Maps app will now include some incredibly useful information: real-time traffic, accidents, road closures, and other incident reports from Waze's 40 million users. Under the traffic tab of the recently updated Maps app on both iOS and Android devices, travelers will find alerts reported reported by diligent Waze users. The Waze app won its loyal following by allowing users to flag things like gas stations, construction, and nasty road conditions for their fellow travelers. Now, the Google Maps community will benefit from the crowd-sourced incident reports, too. (At least those users located in U.S., Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, and the U.K.)
Google Maps has had real-time traffic data from third-party providers like TomTom for awhile, but the quality of the crowd-sourced information from Waze is what commanded that billion-dollar acquisition price. Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps, told AllThingsD's Liz Gannes that "billions" of incidents have been reported by Waze users, who are actual drivers on the roads, rather than indirect intel like a satellite (like TomTom).
Waze too is benefiting from its new owner. Starting today, the app will include Street View and Google's powerful search. Waze suspects the satellite images will help users better report their driving travails, which in turn will make Google Maps better, too, now. "Sometimes we aren’t given much feedback," the company wrote in a separate blog post. "At times like these, more visual tools like Street View and aerial imagery will be invaluable to not only fix the problem, but identify what the issue was in the first place It can also help to fill in house numbers, street names, turn restrictions and other missing data," the post continues.
In this case, enhancing Waze with Google features is just a means to improving Google Maps, suggesting that one day may be the two will become one. But, for now, Google insists it will keep the two apps separate. "Right now they are two powerful separate applications," McClendon added. So, for now, it's all about synergies, man.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.