Waze now tells you when to leave, thanks to its new Planned Drives feature

Turn-by-turn navigation application Waze announced this morning a handy new feature that will make it easier for those who are planning to drive to an upcoming appointment, meeting or other important trip: Waze Planned Drives. The option allows you to tell the app when you need to reach your destination, and it will then alert you as to when you should leave, while taking into consideration things like expected traffic conditions, aggregated traffic history, and more.

The idea here, explains the company, is to make it easier for users to manage their time and schedule more flexible to-do’s, whether those are errands, road trips, or other outings.

The feature can also optionally integrate with your calendar and Facebook Events, which is even more useful. In these cases, once Waze is given access, it can automatically create Planned Drives on your behalf then send you a push notification alert when it’s time to go.

Meanwhile, even those Planned Drives you enter in manually are also designed to be a “set it and forget it” thing, says Waze. The app will automatically make smart adjustments to departure times based on real-time traffic conditions – there’s nothing you need to keep track of, after the drive is entered.

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To use the new setting, you first enter in a destination, and then click on the new “Waze Planned Drives” icon from the Waze ETA Panel which opens. The Planned Drives screen appears, showing peak traffic hours along your route. Here, you’ll tell the app when you need to be at your destination. If it’s the first time you’re using the feature, you’ll also want to make sure you allow Waze to send you reminders so you’ll get the alert when it’s time to leave.

The feature additionally lets you change the “From” portion of the trip from your current location to where you know you’ll be just ahead of departure – for example, your hotel for a business trip, a meeting in town, your home, etc. And you can schedule these drives weeks out to be prepared.

Though Google also owns Waze, planning your trips in this way is a feature that’s not available in Google’s own Maps application. Instead, it takes advantage of its smart assistant Google Now to send out notifications about traffic conditions and alternate route suggestions, when you choose to use its service. However, it doesn’t allow you to actually enter in planned trips in advance – it only knows what’s on your calendar, and what your regular commute tends to be.

Waze Planned Drives launches today on its iOS application, and will arrive soon on Android, says the company.