Driving just got easier, with the launch of Waze for Android Auto. The Israeli mobile navigation app, which provides real-time traffic updates and live maps, is now built into Google’s smart, in-car Android-based infotainment systems.
As a result of this integration, the Waze app has been modified to optimize ease-of-use in a vehicle setting. To maximize simplicity and minimize distraction, the user interface features large fonts for icons and menus, along with minimal steps and options, so as to not create a distraction for the driver.
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Jens Baron, director of Waze‘s product development, says the platform provides real-time navigation, accident and hazard alerts, but instead of getting those on your small-screen smartphone, the platform is now tweaked for the larger in-car screen.
Android-based cars with Waze built in are already available for purchase. According to Baron, there are more than 100 car brands that have Waze in their systems. “Some of these car brands will put it in every vehicle, like General Motors,” he tells NoCamels. For example, every Chevy has Android Auto.
In order to have Waze (and other apps) built into your car, you might have to pay extra. Many companies automatically offer a smart entertainment system, whereas in other vehicles, you have to buy the upgraded entertainment system. In the extreme case, “if you buy a Ferrari, you have to pay some $11,000 extra,” Baron says.
50 million users
Founded in 2007 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine, Waze uses real-time GPS data sourced from its nearly 50 million users to provide accurate traffic and navigational information. Users also pitch in to edit maps by adding details like speed traps and road construction, as well as gas prices and traffic accidents. The application is currently free and available for both Android and iPhone devices.
Recognizing Waze’s potential, Google acquired it in 2013 for over $1 billion, though the company is still an independent entity.
In 2014, Google launched Android Auto, an app that users can operate using either their smartphone or car display. The app provides the driver with useful information like appointment reminders, weather conditions, and navigation courtesy of Google maps. To be able to use this technology, users need an Android Auto-compatible vehicle.
Now, the Waze app will be integrated into Android Auto, though users will have to change the settings from the default Google Maps option.
Waze is not the only Israeli company providing technologies for the cars of the future; Israel is bursting with smart car innovation. Aside from navigation apps such as Moovit and Waze, the realm of safety and autonomous cars is rapidly developing thanks to Israeli companies like Mobileye (which was recently bought for $15 billion by Intel) and Nexar, an app that turns your smartphone into an intelligent dashboard camera to avoid car accidents.
As for the future of car navigation, Baron stresses that “Waze is a social network for cars. It was one of the first to really connect the cars to each other, or drivers to each other. In a few years, you’re going to see fully connected cars that communicate with each other.”