Losing Your Waze

by Adam on May 12, 2013

While this post coincides somewhat nicely with the rumors circling that Facebook may be in talks to acquire the popular social traffic mapping app, Waze, it’s both a coincidence and a departure from that aspect of the tech media reporting. My interest in the company is far more fundamental and wasn’t quite apparent to me before I had used the app a few times (and have since stopped).

It seems that the mantra of “gamify everything” (if that even is a mantra) is clearly reaching new heights. I’m all for personal freedom, and far be it from me to criticize texting, talking, emailing and reading while driving, but I found Waze to be downright dangerous, a bad distraction in an already frenetic “behind-the-wheel” environment. More than a few times I’ve had my attention diverted by many aspects of the app, whether it be the multitude of ridiculous looking “wazer” icons, the ability to report everything from an accident to a car on the shoulder (and being prompted every few miles with warnings of danger that you can either confirm or contest), or the opportunity to gain points for doing any and all manner of things, while driving.

The app pops a superfluous warning message if you are trying to use it while on the road that says not to engage while driving, but c’mon, it’s a navigation app. You’d think that our social responsibility as entrepreneurs would compel us to do more than just pass the buck on the liability by leaving it in our users’ hands to check a little box that says “passenger” (how many drivers do you think have done that?). All this would be reasonably manageable if the app itself used all of its wonderful social computing power to actually help you avoid traffic, but I’ve been in more than a few scenarios where all I get is a small warning a mile or two in advance that says “slow traffic ahead.” I suppose that’s helpful, but if we’re really looking to improve on the mapping experience, I think we have to lose our Waze and find an app that provides a truly better navigation experience instead of just replacing it with yet another platform to socialize on (insofar as reporting traffic and building your Waze profile can be considered “socializing”).

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