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Google Maps, Waze, HERE WeGo: which traffic app should you go for?

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Today, many drivers use their smartphones to find their way to their destinations. But it is sometimes difficult to choose between the array of traffic apps on offer. How do you navigate between all the different apps? Athlon examines a few of them for you.

Traffic apps are much smarter than the traditional satnav in your car. That’s because the digital maps are constantly being updated via your smartphone’s mobile internet connection. So you continuously get information about traffic conditions, police checks, speed limits, and so on.

Over the years, traffic apps have become fully fledged forms of artificial intelligence. They collect big data, meaning that they know the current traffic situation. This enables them to calculate the average driving time across the entire road network, and even to predict future traffic conditions. Yet every app has its limitations. Which traffic app should you go for? Here are a few to choose from.

Google Maps

The best-known GPS app is and will continue to be Google Maps. With more than a billion users worldwide, it is currently one of the most popular tools for getting smoothly from A to B. Google’s online map service, which was launched in 2005, uses digital maps, detailed satellite images and artificial intelligence to calculate the quickest route.

Advantages

  • Google Maps isn’t just handy for drivers; walkers, cyclists and public transport users can all use the app too.

  • Because the app is a Google product, all kinds of supplementary information is also available, including the websites, phone numbers and addresses of specific places such as petrol stations, restaurants or shops. Moreover, Google Street View offers a view of the ‘real world’.

Disadvantages

  • Google Maps may be free, but by using the app you are actually paying with your data. Google always knows exactly where you are at any given moment.

  • Anyone can add information to the app: missing places, photos, reviews, etc. This means that users are sometimes overloaded with information.

Waze

Waze, which has been owned by Google since 2013, uses big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence to calculate the fastest route for you. This makes the free navigation app one of the best around at the moment.

Advantages

  • Thanks to artificial intelligence, the app can calculate the quickest route and your arrival time extremely accurately.

  • The app warns you about traffic jams, which reduces rear-end collisions.

  • Waze is not only a satnav app, but also maintains a community of users that deliver information about traffic jams, stationary vehicles, police checks, etc.

Disadvantages

  • By showing users the quickest route, the popular Waze leads to systemic rat running. That’s because the app’s creators chose not to include any road hierarchy in the system: Waze cannot tell the difference between motorways and village roads.

  • Not everyone is aware that by using Waze, they are contributing to the big data that the company is collecting behind the scenes. For this reason, critics of the app regard it as unethical.

HERE WeGo

HERE, which was developed by Nokia, was originally only available for Windows Phones. In 2015 the navigation software was sold to a consortium of the German car brands Audi, BMW and Daimler. Three years ago, HERE was relaunched under a new name: HERE WeGo. Since then, the traffic app has also been available for Android and iOS.

Advantages

  • HERE WeGo is very user-friendly in both online and offline modes.

  • The app compares different means of transport. In some cities, HERE WeGo even displays taxi prices.

  • The traffic app’s software is integrated into Daimler’s Car2Go car sharing system.

Disadvantages

  • HERE WeGo is less good at indicating traffic jams and recalculating routes.

  • Because HERE WeGo is a relatively new app, not all the information is up to date yet. For example, in some areas transport options are missing, and the speed limits shown are not always correct.

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