Google acquired Waze and it seemed obvious the purchase was about making Maps better. Today, Maps did indeed get a little better thanks to an update to its mobile maps apps that introduces Waze’s real-time incident reports to Android and iOS applications.
On Waze, users can report things like accidents, cars stopped by the side of the road, construction and road closures in real-time as they drive. These reports are used to alert other Wazers to problems ahead as they happen. Users in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Switzerland, UK and the U.S. will initially have access to these features, with more regions rolling out later.
Interestingly, the Maps update is red-only; users of the Google Maps apps can’t report incidents, just see the ones reported by Wazers. Waze’s own apps get updates today, too, however, providing them a little Google love in return for their service. Google is adding Google Search to Waze’s list of providers, and also adding Google Street View and satellite imaging to Waze’s Map Editor, which should be of benefit to Waze’s community of active reporters.
This gives us a big clue about how Google is viewing Waze: it’s not going to toss the two products into a melting pot and come out with a single hybrid – it’s treating Waze almost like a community-sourced product development arm of the Maps project. So long as it also continues providing useful updates to the Waze app and its users, that could be a strategy that serves it very well in terms of providing better-informed Maps data for the general public.