New Waze for smarter motoring

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New Waze for smarter motoring

Postby admin » Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:16 am

Step aside GPS, there’s now the smarter ‘crowdsourcing’ Waze offering optimal driving directions and more.

ON a traffic-jammed Jalan Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, the newly-installed navigation app on my Samsung Galaxy S3 chimed and a message warned: “Police hidden. Jalan Bangsar. 545 metres away.”

It was noon and I was driving to a lunch tweet-up in Bangsar.

Half a kilometre later, indeed there were cops hiding behind some bushes.

Wow! What a clever navigation app, I thought.

Cleverer than my domineering 70-something mother who drives me crazy with her incessant turn-by-turn instructions when seated next to me while I’m driving.

Introducing Waze, the amazing social networking navigation app with the tagline “Outsmarting Traffic, Together”.

How does it work? First download the free app to your iPhone or android smartphone, sign up, set your destination and drive.

The app will provide turn-by-turn directions, with an automated woman’s voice telling you where to go.

“By simply driving with the app open on your phone, you passively contribute traffic and other road data that helps the Waze system to provide other Waze drivers with the optimal route to their destination, including live traffic information,” according to Waze in

Waze is about “crowdsourcing”.

Here’s how it works: say you are driving 60kph on Jalan Bangsar, that information will be sent to Waze via the Internet.

It will analyse that data together with other data sent by Wazers, and it will know the traffic situation on Jalan Bangsar.

The fun part about Waze is that you can submit reports on accidents, traffic jams and “hidden” policemen.

There have been times when I wished there had been an accident so that I could report that there was an accident.

A few weeks ago, I was a Waze baby with a cute avatar – a pink quote bubble on wheels sucking a baby pacifier.

After 100 miles (about 160km), I graduated to Waze Grown-Up (I lost the baby pacifier).

The next rank is Waze Warrior, when I reach the top 10% of scorers in my region.

Waze has the inside knowledge of a taxi driver. It will suggest unconventional routes so that you can avoid a traffic jam.

With crowdsourcing, when there is an accident on the road, Waze will warn you not to take that route.

At first I did not believe that Waze was that smart.

Instead of taking a toll road which it suggested, I took the Federal Highway which on the Waze map was congested because of an accident.

Big mistake. I was stuck in a 30-minute crawl because drivers were slowing down to jot down the licence plate of the cars involved in the three-car pile-up in the other lane.

Waze also makes driving exciting. Instead of your habitual route, it would suggest a route that you did not consider for your favourite neighbourhood shopping mall.

It thinks of routes that you’ll never think about. Wonder if there is a Waze app for sexual positions?

As predicted by Waze, I arrived at La Bodega at around 12.35pm.

I raved about Waze to my Twitter friends. And I was not the only one raving.

Steven, a 40-something executive with a penchant for stepping on the accelerator rather too hard, has Waze on his Samsung Galaxy Tab.

He uses Waze to find out where the latest police roadblock is.

“Most of the time, it works. It helps me to slow down my car,” he enthused.

“Why do you need to slow down your car?” asked Isabelle Lim, a 23-year-old radio DJ with Traxx FM.

About a year ago, Isabelle discovered Waze when she moved from Penang to Kuala Lumpur.

“My friend said, ‘if you ever get lost (in KL), don’t phone me, just use Waze’,” she related.

Now she’s a Waze addict, using the app for her daily commute to work and for finding the most “obscure location” (i.e. a shoplot in the middle of nowhere in Subang Jaya).

One of Isabelle’s gratifying moments with Waze was when she was driving towards KL International Airport at around 10pm.

“It was a really lonely drive as there were no cars on the road. And I could see a Wazer approaching from the opposite direction on the Waze map.

“It (the Waze icon) was approaching, approaching and then the driver of an Alphard highlighted at me,” she said.

“I should have highlighted back but I was new to Waze and I was so surprised that people on Waze were friendly and nice.”

If you have passion for maps, you can edit and update the Waze map.

On Sunday night when Googling articles on Waze, I found that the top three record-holders in solving user-reported Wazer map problems were based in Malaysia.

He’s Andreas West (also known on Waze as 4xrbj1), a Waze Royalty (that’s his ranking) who operates a Facebook account (Waze in Malaysia) to “expedite editing tasks such as unlocking roads.”

His latest project is to record AES (Automated Enforcement System) speed cameras.

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Waze on the ascent - courtesy of Apple

Postby admin » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:02 am

There is an adage that goes: “Cutting off the nose to spite the face”.

It is a way of describing a self-destructive over-reaction when faced with a conundrum. The equivalent of a petulant child throwing a tantrum when it does not get its way.

On Sept 19, a global giant did just that and proverbially cut off its own honker.

With a chainsaw. And then topped it up with a healthy dose of plastic explosives before throwing in a nuclear bomb for good measure.

This writer is referring to, of course, Apple’s decision to remove Google Maps from all its devices when iPhone users hit the iOS 6 “upgrade” button.

In one fell swoop, Google Maps was gone and in its place, coming in with a blast of fanfare louder than the Norse god Heimdall blowing on his horn Gjallar to signal the end of the world, came iOS 6 Maps.

Now, Apple being Apple (and this is based on watching how the global economic juggernaut operates), it was understandable if they wanted to be rid of all things Google on their devices.

After all, Google does produce the rival Android mobile phone operating system.

And only just recently, Samsung has seen how far the California-based firm will go to protect its devices and their market share.

The legal battles between Apple and the Korean conglomerate are still going great guns in courtrooms all around the world.

Of course, all the kerfluffle would have meant jot if iOS 6 Maps was up to scratch. Sadly, it was not.

Users from Tokyo to Tampa Bay – so used to the near perfection that Google Maps had offered them up to this point (to a state where Google Maps had started to gun down traditional satnav devices) – started to complain about iOS 6 Maps taking them down wrong roads, to wrong destinations and telling them that they were in the right spot even when they were most certainly not.

In an apparent act of damage control, Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook issued an apology.

Cook even went so far as to ask iPhone users to try the maps from others like Bing, MapQuest, Nokia and – wait for it – yes, Google.

It was the mobile phone navigation system equivalent of eating humble pie.

Of course, this being Apple, it will bounce back and whatever replaces iOS 6 Maps will certainly do its best to gun down the opposition.

Again, this is Apple we are talking about here. Apple does not like to lose.

At anything.

Until that time happens – and like Cook says – iPhone users do have other options.

One of them is Waze.

Now, for most of you who have read Philip Golingai’s article “New Waze for Smarter Motoring” (The Star, 1 Oct) on the matter, or if you are already happily “wazing” yourself through Malaysia’s congested highways and byways, there is no need to explain what Waze is.

So, please avoid the next few paragraphs.

For those who have not, think of Waze as Facebook or Twitter with maps and navigation directions thrown in for good measure.

It is social networking that allows you to get from Point A to Point B by avoiding such niceties like traffic jams, speed traps, speed cameras, etc.

All you have to do – provided you have an iOS or Android powered smartphone – is to download the free app. Then simply set your destination and press the pedal to the metal.

There is a visual map that shows you were you are going, there is a lovely Satnav Sally that tells you where to go and ... wait a minute, how is this any different from a Garmin or Google Maps, you may ask?

Ah, that is where the beauty of the social networking model works. Waze encourages its users to share traffic, traffic police and accidents information with others on the network.

By doing so, it creates a real-time overview of the road network around you and then allows you the freedom to look for other optional routes (which Waze can provide as well, of course).

To give you an example of how it works, Golingai – when using Waze – was given advance notice of a traffic cop hiding in the bushes with a speed camera near him.

And, lo and behold, when he passed the area in question, what did he see but a rozzer in the bushes with a camera gun.
Of course, being the cantankerous old goat that I am, I was sceptical that such an app was of any use.

I would stick to my guns and use my trusted satnav with the blond Aussie girl giving me directions to places that do not sound like anything she pronounces in her thick, Queensland accent.

That was, of course, until the day came when my Garmin could not track any satellites because of the thick haze.

I was in one of the northern states – not my usual haunt – and I needed to get to a particular destination at a particular time. I needed my satnav to work.

It did not.

Fortunately, my co-driver had Waze on his phone. Not only did we get to where we wanted to be, we got there earlier than expected because we were directed to use a little-known backstreet, as a result of a heavy jam on the main road, by Waze. Sweet.

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