Waze, the impressively-funded navigation app that offers real-time traffic data collected by its users, isn’t just looking to save you time on your commute. With a new feature launching today, it could also save you money on gas.
Di-Ann Eisnor, Waze’s vice president of platform and partnerships, says this is “the biggest product update since we launched the company.” She says that different groups of Waze’s 19 million users open the app for different reasons (some for navigation, some for the live traffic data), but all of them can save time and money getting gas.
So now, users who are low on gas don’t need to just pull into the first station they pass. Instead, they can bring up a map or list of all the stations along your route and their current prices. The data comes from OPIS, but if you arrive at a station and find that the price has changed, you can improve the data by uploading that information into the app.
To kick off the program, Waze is also offering discounts at participating gas stations, including Kum & Go, Hess, Mid-Atlantic Convenience Stores (BP and Exxon stations) and Vintners Distributers (Shell). Those discounts will show up in the app, and are redeemed using price look-up codes — Eisnor admits that this is pretty old-fashioned, even calling it an “anti-tech solution,” but she says it was the right choice to ensure that the discounts can be redeemed at any station without any additional technology.
The new feature could also help keep Waze relevant in the face of the new turn-by-turn directions app that Apple has announced for iOS 6, by going beyond traffic and directions. (Waze actually appears to be contributing data to Apple’s app.) My interview with Eisnor actually came before Apple’s announcement, but she did tell me that the fuel feature is a way for Waze to test out a more “vertical” approach. iI it’s popular, we can expect to see other updates in this vein.