Waze vs. Google Maps: Which map app should you be using?

Time may be on the side of the Rolling Stones but for the rest of us, maximizing the number of hours in a day has turned into a daily struggle. Mere minutes and seconds are treated as a valuable commodity, which is why we aim to get to our destinations as fast as possible. Sometimes finding the best route and avoiding traffic can be tough.

Thankfully, modern technology exists so our smartphones can give out turn-by-turn directions that allow us to navigate with relative ease. Yet despite the ease of use, time is still the deciding factor for many when choosing which navigation app to use, which is why Google Maps and Waze are the creme de la crème of map apps.

Google Maps and Waze are perhaps most popular because they both consistently deliver accurate directions and are straightforward to use. They’re also both owned by Google. Personal preference dictates whether you choose Google Maps or Waze but it does bring up the question — which one is actually better?

Let’s break it down.

What are Waze and Google Maps?


Waze: A turn-by-turn car navigation app, Waze acts like a crowdsourced social network while also giving drivers directions. With Waze, users can alert others to accidents, alternative routes, road closures, police officer sightings, and other such driving impediments. Google bought Waze in 2013 but it is still different from Google Maps mainly for the social network aspect and interface.

Google Maps: More of a standard navigation app, Google Maps is not just for car directions as it also provides route options for using public transit, biking, and walking. Google Maps can also be used to search for different businesses like places to eat.

What are the differences between Waze and Google Maps?

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  • Live traffic reporting provided by users
  • Plethora of voice navigation options, including celebrity voices
  • Remembers commonly used routes, frequent destinations, and commute times
  • Traffic jam time countdown
  • Police notifications
  • Spotify integration
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Google Maps

  • Offers directions for driving, biking, walking, and using public transportation
  • Voice navigation choices for driving, biking, and walking
  • Google Street View integration
  • Turn-by-turn directions still offered during offline mode
  • Built-in Google search provides information on businesses and lets you know if a business will be closing soon
  • Lane designation lets drivers know which lane they should be in before turns
  • Drivers can find their parked cars easily since the app saves parking locations
  • Navigation backlit change based on day/nighttime
  • Offline functionality

Which app will get you there faster?

The answer to this question, unfortunately, isn’t that simple.

For city driving, Waze excels at finding alternate routes around accidents or traffic jams, especially since it alerts drivers way in advance if an incident is near. Waze’s police reporting is also quite advantageous as it helps drivers to monitor their speed and avoid getting a ticket. However, to save time, Waze tends to take drivers down roundabout routes through residential neighborhoods. This could be ideal for longer drives but annoying and not really that significant of a timesaver for shorter trips.

Meanwhile, Google Maps will still get you to your destination in a timely fashion and alerts drivers about accidents and traffics jams. The alerts aren’t as informative as Waze, though, mainly because Google Maps doesn’t have a social aspect. Google Maps, however, does have a larger and more informative map view, which allows drivers to see routes more clearly.

So which app is better?

Like the last question, the answer isn’t that cut and dry. Mainly because personal preference heavily factors into a driver’s decision into what app they use.

If you like engaging in the social aspect of Waze, then that is the navigation app for you. However, if the interface is more important for you, Google Maps should likely be your preferred navigation app. Check out our guide on how to use Google Maps for some handy tips on getting the most from it.