Facebook may soon acquire Waze, a community-based turn-by-turn directions app. The app has around 40 million users — a fraction of Facebook's billion, but that could change if the deal goes through.
Waze comes with quite a few goodies to make your next outing go as smoothly as possible. However, because Waze relies on app users for its information, it has privacy options that you'll want to take into account.
Along with GPS-powered directions, similar to those in both Google and Apple Maps, Waze offers detailed traffic information, accident reports and alerts to roadside police officers. It also will alert drivers to speed cameras, but only when the driver is traveling over a posted speed limit. Waze even has a gas station listing that can point out the cheapest fuel along your route.
As long as the app is open on your phone, it will gather location and speed data to determine the best routes for all drivers in your vicinity who are using the app. You can add specific reports, such as a vehicle on the shoulder of the highway, which will be added to a listing found in the main menu. The Waze app will automatically close when it detects you haven't driven in awhile to help save your phone's battery life .
You can make Waze a lot more personal by connecting with Facebook friends, who will then appear on your driving map. Waze also lets users create driving groups, say for those who share a commute. Anyone can join a group and receive driving alerts from members and chat with one another — a feature that should not be used while driving.
Waze also allows users who have connected with friends to become invisible. To do this, go into "My Waze" by tapping the car icon in the lower left corner of the display. Toggle the "Go invisible" switch to on. Once it's activated, you'll appear as offline to friends. Your icon will also disappear from your route map and any reports you send will be posted as anonymous.
Only you can decide how connected or how private you'd like to be while using Waze. Here are your options, which you can modify under "Settings":
- Choose to connect with Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare.
- For in-app messaging, you may allow others to send you Map Chats, which are visible to other drivers. You may also allow others to send you private messages. Private messages appear in your Waze inbox.
- You may use the name you registered with, or for privacy, you can choose a nickname. However, if you connect to Facebook, your friends will see your real name.
Waze is available for free from the App Store and from Google Play.
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