Waze app for Android with commuting estimatorEnlarge Photo
These days, you can't swing a cat in any app marketplace without hitting half a dozen targeted at travelers, but few of them meet anyone's everyday needs. After all, do we really need a travel app to get to the 7-Eleven? Waze is the exception to the rule, and with a new update, it becomes even more indispensable for daily use -- particularly by commuters.
For the uninitiated, Waze is a free travel app that uses crowdsourcing to keep tabs on traffic. In a nutshell, Waze users crack open the app when they enter their vehicles, then Waze uses each phone's built-in GPS and accelerometer to note how well folks are moving through traffic. That data, paired with info from third-party traffic services, is used to mark up maps and give users an idea of where slow-downs are. So far, the app has proven hugely popular, boasting north of 2,000,000 users.
In addition to all of Waze's other great features, a new update does two nifty things:
1. It offers text-to-speech (TTS) voice guidance: "Just by enabling the new TTS capabilities on your device, you’ll receive voice alerts upon approaching potentially dangerous events on the road, as well as voice-based street, exit and highway names...." That's not quite as thorough as some voice navigation systems, but did we mention that Waze is stone-cold free?
2. For Android fans, the news is even better: the latest version of Waze includes a built-in commuting widget -- basically, a calculator that can survey traffic data and estimate the length of your commute. It even suggests a range of departure times, indicating which are more likely to plunge you into gridlock, and which will offer smooth sailing.