They come with a freeware license and sport a comprehensive feature package, including new-gen capabilities such as eco-friendly routes in Google Maps and electric vehicle charging stations in Waze.
However, it doesn’t mean they’re flawless. They still have their shortcomings, and today, I’ll present each app’s best and worst features.
Google Maps: the best feature
Google Maps has many great features, but I think fuel-efficient routing is the top one. Introduced in 2021, the fuel-saving routes have a simple yet revolutionary goal: they help drivers navigate to their destinations by reducing the carbon footprint of their vehicles.
Eco-friendly routing considers more factors when calculating routes, including hills, road inclines, and traffic, to compare vehicle emissions and fuel consumption when navigating.
Google Maps compares the ETAs, and if the eco-friendly route does not generate a significant delay, it’s presented as an alternative to the fastest route.
Google says this innovative feature works like a charm. Since its debut in 2021, it has already helped reduce vehicle emissions by the equivalent of taking 500,000 vehicles off the road.
Waze: the best feature
The best Waze feature is undoubtedly the traffic reporting system. Waze allows users to mark the location of traffic incidents, such as traffic jams, speed traps, broken traffic lights, roadkill, and others.
Waze users the information submitted by users to make the road more predictable for others by displaying alerts while driving on the same routes.
The large user base makes Waze’s crowdsourcing engine incredibly effective, so you can find traffic reports on nearly every road.
According to the latest unofficial statistics, Waze has more than 150 million monthly active users, though it’s unclear how many contribute with traffic reports.
However, if you typically drive with Waze, you’ll likely come across several traffic reports. The police report is the most common, along with traffic jams, potholes, and accidents.
Google Maps: the worst feature
Google Maps also comes with offline maps support, but the feature is so badly implemented that it makes using it a very frustrating experience.
Downloading offline maps involves defining the area using an on-screen selection box, but selecting all roads included in the journey is a massive challenge if you leave on a road trip.
Other applications, such as HERE Maps, allow users to download offline maps for a whole country, making getting full coverage for a whole trip much easier.
Google Maps automatically updates the downloaded maps, typically when running in the background. It can use the Wi-Fi connection for the process, saving precious bandwidth.
However, the download method is a major pain in the neck, especially for people who want to use Google Maps for longer trips.
Waze: the worst feature
Also owned by Google, Waze’s biggest shortcoming is the cartoonish interface. Most people complain about the lack of reliability and the frustrating instability, as every new update continues to fuel the bug-ridden experience.
But when it comes to features that would require major improvements, I believe the interface is the one that needs a major overhaul. The Waze UI hasn’t been updated in a very long time, as the Google-owned company seems to stick with an already familiar approach to the entire user base.
Waze rivals like Google Maps and Apple Maps look a lot more modern, making it easier for users to find their way to the destination. The route is clearly highlighted using a modern design style, whereas Waze uses colors and icons that seem more appropriate for an application aimed at kids.
The interface does its job, but it is sometimes so crowded that observing even essential traffic information is challenging. The Google-owned company doesn’t seem interested in updating the UI, especially as it has recently updated the iconography.
Google Maps is a much better option, as its interface is clear and intuitive.
Eventually, choosing the best navigation application for you comes down to making a compromise, as the perfect choice does not exist. Every app has a shortcoming, so users must learn to live with it as long as they like the rest of the feature lineup.
If you’re interested in replacing Google Maps and Waze with a different application, the best choices today are HERE Maps, Sygic GPS Navigation, TomTom’s software, OsmAnd, and other less famous solutions like Magic Earth and TomTom AmiGO. Most come with support for Android and iPhone but sometimes lack Android Auto and CarPlay integration.