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Waze rolling out beta invites to its long-awaited Android Auto app

Why it matters to you

Many drivers love Waze's social approach to traffic reporting, and the upcoming Android Auto version should make the app easier and safer to use than ever before.

Waze is a popular navigation app for many drivers, thanks to its crowdsourced traffic updates. You’d think, then, that having been owned by Google for the past several years, the app would be a perfect fit for Android Auto. Somehow, that version hasn’t released yet — though news this week suggests drivers may not have to wait much longer.

Waze is now sending invites to its beta users to test drive the app on Android Auto, according to Android Police. The email says the beta will go live soon, but doesn’t specify a date. It links to a Google Docs signup page, where those interested can register. If you haven’t joined the beta community, you can do so here.

Some of Waze’s data, like traffic updates, are already featured in Google Maps, which Android Auto uses for navigation by default. However, Google Maps doesn’t offer drivers the ability to report incidents themselves while on the road. When Waze debuts on Android Auto, it should make that process much easier, with the help of hands-free voice commands and your car’s infotainment display.

News of the long-awaited Android Auto release comes at a pivotal time for Waze, which in February announced it was expanding its Carpool service to multiple cities around the United States after testing in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, Israel. With about 80 million active users, the app has a strong install base to go toe-to-toe with ride-sharing alternatives like Uber and Lyft — though adoption has been slow in the initial test markets.

Additionally, in March the company announced a partnership with Spotify to integrate playback controls conveniently within the navigation interface. Waze has worked with other developers as well, and began sharing its routing and guidance data through its Transport software development kit last year. The SDK has been used by Lyft as well as emergency dispatch, parking, and food delivery services worldwide.