Phone GPS: Waze is a free app that gives you turn-by-turn directions on your phone. It’s not bad, although the app is not as accurate as a $299 in-car GPS device. It doesn’t work in tunnels and this writer got a $50 ticket after making a turn suggested by Waze. Make sure your phone is GPS-enabled, and be sure you have an unlimited data plan.
The idea behind Waze is to “crowdsource” road information from its users. When the app is on, it automatically sends Waze your speed, location, and direction. Combining data from many drivers, the app shows real-time information about road speeds and traffic jams. The company says over five million people are using the app. Users are able to update Waze’s maps, flag the location of police cars, and form groups with other Wazers, who appear on the map as cartoon vehicles.
So what’s the catch? Waze plans to make money through location-based advertising, offering drivers games and prizes along their routes. That makes some screens look a little like the children’s game Candy Land. Drivers in a hurry can stick to a simplified navigation screen.