Waze announces largest update since Google’s acquisition two years ago

Google-owned mapping firm Waze has announced its biggest update since its was acquired by the search engine giant, Version 4.0. The update includes a major redesign of the app, offering more clarity and visibility, alongside a laundry list of new and updated features.

The redesign is very Maxis-like, reminding us of the Sims 4 in some ways. The cartoon designs of alerts make the app feel simplistic, while simultaneously offering a great deal of information. It will be available on iOS first, but an Android update is planned in the not-too-distant future.

One tap navigation allows users to set a few regular destinations, such as home, work, and McDonalds. Those destinations will be kept in a folder to the right, alongside events and alerts that can be scheduled inside of Waze. Integration with Google Calendar is also an option, letting users import dates, times, and routes.

Alerts will still show up while driving, showing objects on the road, traffic jams, construction, and police vehicles. Users will be able to confirm with one quick tap whether the alert is still relevant or no longer needs to be there. The system for adding an alert has been made simpler as well — by tapping on a place, selecting one of the 11 alerts available, and then describing it. Users are able to take photos, add descriptions, and choose between minor, major, or other lane alerts.

Users will be able to earn points by adding and confirming alerts in their local area. The points don’t have any monetary value, but the top one percent are named Waze Royalty, with Waze Knight, Warrior, and Grown-Up levels below.

In the new app update, users will be able to send their ETA to friends, detailing how far away they are from their destination. Users will also be able to check all of the alerts on the route, and will be able to change to a secondary route if there are major roadblocks ahead.

Waze was acquired by Google in June 2013 for $1.1 billion, after rumors of Facebook and Microsoft interest in the Israeli-based mapping firm. The acquisition was investigated by the U.K. Office of Fair Trading, the Israeli Antitrust Authority, and Federal Trade Commission, since it involved Google acquiring one of its major competitors. In the end, the three departments found nothing wrong with the deal.

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