Waze’s World Cup nods

I’m a regular Wazer these days and I’m finding it more and more useful as more and more people join up. Not so much for the rush hour traffic, but it’s proven its worth on journeys back from Agulhas and also for avoiding those unexpected delays caused by stuff like roadworks and accidents.

Anyway, for no apparent reason other than the sheer joy of the World Cup, Waze has given us a couple of nice little touches this week:

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Firstly, the Ready to go? screen now comes with striking Brazilian gold and green colouring and a football to boot (pun intended). And then there’s the option to change your Waze icon to show your support for your chosen team. This seemed to work well for a couple of days – I even saw a Ecuador fan on the Main Road in Kenilworth – but now many of the icons seem to have been replaced with giant footballs.
I’m not sure why this has happened, but it is quite cool to see a multitude of 1980-style footballs making their way around Cape Town.

If you want to join in the fun (and avoid the traffic) download Waze free from Google Play Store.

Waze and means…

I’ve been fiddling with the Waze app on my Android phone this week. It’s not the first time I have played with it, but I found that it was of very limited use last time out (probably about a year ago), simply because I was the only (slight exaggeration) person in South Africa bothering to use it.

Described as:

…a free social mobile app that enables drivers to build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation for an optimal commute. 100% powered by users, the more you drive the better it gets.

Waze allows you to send information about your journey to other Wazers on the road, so that a real-time map can be built up and the app can help other users to avoid troublespots. Because of this, it requires a “critical mass” of users to make it worthwhile and, as I pointed up above, it didn’t have that. Now, however, it has joined forces with MiX Telematics who already have 30,000 users using realtime reporting through their vehicle tracking services.

I found out about this from a rather enthusiastic John Maytham on Cape Talk, who has been enthusing enthusiastically about Waze ever since. Quite how this sits with Primedia’s support of the Lead SA campaign, I’m not sure. After all, they aren’t usually very impressed with people using their cellphones while driving.

My first impressions haven’t been brilliant. There are still very few users in Cape Town, and the information seems only to state the bleeding obvious: traffic is bad into town in the morning, traffic is bad out of town in the evening. Add to that the fact that because of the MASSIVE lump of rock we like to call “The Mountain” and its proximity to Table Bay, there aren’t an awful lot of alternative routes to take in the Mother City and Waze’s usefulness is immediately limited.

And then there’s the battery drain. Wow. I have never known an app like it for using power. A journey from Ysterplaat, via town, to home (about 30km) took over 50% of my (admittedly old) battery life. All of which means that even with a fully charged phone, you aren’t going to get much more than 90 minutes of Waze-related driving fun.

I’m too worldly wise to give up on apps very quickly, but Waze is already on the danger list.
Anyone care to tell me why it deserves to stay on my phone?

More on Waze in SA.
Waze on Android Market Google Play Store [QR].

UPDATE: Ooh – looks like 5fm Breakfast is running a Waze promotion next week as well. 6000 miles… slightly ahead of the curve again…