Waze Vs. Google Maps: The Best Navigation App For Android Auto

For many people, especially those using a vehicle equipped with Android Auto, Google Maps reigns supreme when it comes to navigation. What you might not know is a strong competitor is out there in Waze. Although it doesn't come pre-installed on Android devices, Waze is a really solid alternative to Google Maps, and it comes out ahead for a lot of people's preferences.

At their core, both Waze and Google Maps are largely the same app — they both look for the best way to get you from one place to another. However, the two have different methods of making it happen. 

Both apps will take you to where you need to be, but you'll notice the Waze app might lead you down some unfamiliar roads. This is because it prioritizes the faster route available, and that makes it a perfect fit for people looking for speed over everything. Is that enough to make you a Waze convert? It's not quite that simple.

Waze takes the edge in navigation

When you plug in a destination for both Google Maps and Waze, you'll get an estimated arrival time from both. If you're running into traffic, Google Maps will let you know an alternative route is available and ask if you want to take it. Waze will automatically update its route to ensure you're on the quickest path available. 

It comes with easy-to-read traffic reports that let you know ahead of time what problems you'll be running into. The app can ultimately lead people down roads they don't recognize every now and then due to always finding the quickest route. For a lot of people that's perfectly fine, but you could find yourself wondering why you're suddenly on a sketchy street or taking an exit earlier than usual. 

It really comes down to personal preference, but there's no question that Waze is the winner when it comes to raw navigation. If that's what you're looking for, then the competition is over. However, there is a bit more to it than just navigation.

Google Maps edges out Waze elsewhere

If you're putting in a restaurant in the Waze app, you'll get the quickest path there, but not other vital information. The Google Maps app will give you the hours, phone number, reviews, and photos. Waze will give the vital information for the most part, but you're not going to be seeing user reviews here. It seems the results can even vary from place to place. 

Trying two different Burger King restaurants in the area gave different information, as one gave the hours, while another didn't. Google Maps, on the other hand, showed user reviews, pictures of a burger, and the hours all in an easy-to-see spot. Waze is fine if you're familiar with the area already, but traveling to a new place shows the limitations — especially if you're trying out a restaurant.

Waze can also get a bit distracting with the ad placements, too. Waze falls victim to the long banner ads across your screen while the Google Maps app doesn't have anything of the sort. Ads don't appear while driving, giving you nothing to worry about there, but it can be annoying when you're putting in your destination. 

While it won't affect you while driving, it's also worth mentioning that Waze falls way behind with foot traffic. Walking will require you to use Google Maps because Waze won't map out a footpath. It doesn't matter if you're only using it with Android Auto, but it's something to keep in mind.

Waze vs. Google Maps

At the end of the day, it's a toss-up based on preference. Waze gets a clear edge in navigation, which is what a lot of people will value the most while driving. While Google Maps does let you know if there are slowdowns ahead, it doesn't always give you a different route to take, and it acts more as a warning instead. Google Maps has a lot of name recognition, and that's a big reason why a lot of people use it. 

What you might not know is Waze shares a parent company in Google, so you're not exactly leaving the ecosystem if you jump ship. You're even able to create a Waze account with your Google account, so it'll all feel very familiar. 

Considering the simple setup, give Waze a try the next time you're driving and see if you like it. What it loses in basic quality-of-life features like restaurant reviews, it makes up for in navigation superiority. It all comes down to preference, and there's not really a wrong choice to make here.