Waze: Free turn-by-turn navigation for mobile

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I am a commuter that drives to work five days a week, about an hour each way. I, along with many other iPhone users, have been awaiting turn-by-turn navigation, a much-vaunted feature of iOS 6. However, about two weeks before iOS 6 became available, I learned about a free navigation app called Waze.

Waze has reduced my commute by about 30 minutes a day, which is about 15 minutes saved each way, for the last four weeks. Needless to say, I have grown to trust it when it attempts to route me around traffic.

How does it work?

The Waze app shows a live map that it updates with public transit data and combines with real-time GPS data from other Waze users. With this collective GPS data, Waze is able to route a driver around traffic slowdowns in real-time. In my case, on some days Waze directed me to take one freeway to work, while on other days it directed me to take a different one. And sometimes, Waze told me to exit the freeway and take surface streets to get around a particularly slow spot. After getting around the slowdown, Waze would then tell me to get back on the highway.

If you spend any amount of time driving around from place to place, consider using Waze on your smartphone. It's free and doesn't require creating an online profile to use it.

The only potential downside is the impact on battery life. Because Waze uses GPS and internet data to determine the location of other Waze users, you may find it uses as much as up to 30% of your battery to commute just one hour. For me, that's a small price to pay in order to save two and a half hours of drive time per week, but you can decide for yourself.

Waze is available on a number of mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone.

Visit the Waze Download page to learn more.

One small Waze tip: Be sure to turn Waze off when you are finished with it, to help save on battery life. Touch the menu button, then touch the power button to shut it down.