Google Maps vs. Waze – Which One Is Better For Rideshare Drivers?

As Rideshare drivers, we often rely on navigation apps to get our passengers and packages to their destinations. You can use Uber’s in-app navigation, but a lot of drivers prefer to use third-party apps. If that’s you, there’s two main options: Google Maps and Waze. Although Google bought Waze back in 2013 for a little over a billion dollars, there’s still some big differences between the apps and a variety of reasons to prefer one over the other.

Check out Jon’s video below, then read the transcript to see his full analysis.

How to change your preferred navigation in the Uber app

Before we get started, let’s briefly go over how to change your preferred navigation program from within the Uber and Lyft apps.

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From the Uber app, tap the Account button in the bottom left, then Settings, and then Navigation Provider. From the Lyft app, tap your picture, then tap Settings, and then Navigation. If you’re not familiar with navigation apps, don’t worry, both Google Maps and Waze are pretty easy to figure out. You type an address into the search bar, hit the Navigate button, and you’re on your way, just like with a Garmin or other standalone GPS unit.

These two apps also offer the advantage of being able to search for destinations by name. So, if your rider gets in the car and gives you the name of a sports stadium, for instance, you won’t even need to look up the address. Just type in the name and you’re good to go.

Waze vs. Google: They often give you different routes

Where the two apps differ is how they calculate the best route. Google Maps and Waze both incorporate real-time traffic data into their route and ETA calculations. Google does this using road sensors and speed data from other drivers who are using the app. Waze is actively maintained by drivers themselves. Waze users can report accidents, slowdowns, and police activity using pins to show other drivers exactly where the trouble is. When using Google Maps, you won’t have a whole lot of route customization options. Enter the menu and tap Route Options, and you’ll only find three: Avoid Highways, Avoid Tolls, and Avoid Ferries.

On occasion, Google will notify you that there’s a faster route available, but in my experience, this doesn’t happen very often. In general, Google Maps prefers to keep you on main roads rather than taking you on lengthy detours, even if it means shaving a few minutes off your ETA. Waze, on the other hand, prides itself on finding ways around traffic. If it finds a faster way to your destination, it will update your route accordingly and you won’t have to do a thing.

Waze provides more traffic detail

However, in my opinion, the main benefit to Waze is the detail. Google Maps traffic data only comes in three flavors: green, yellow and red. With Waze, you can see exactly where and why the slowdown is occurring, whether it’s simply heavy traffic, or something major like an accident or road closure. And, of course, being able to spot the cops before they spot you is very beneficial, especially if you’re the type of driver who views speed limits as more of a suggestion.

Waze also allows you more route customization options. You can specify whether you want to take the fastest route or the shortest route, which can be very different in a traffic-choked city like Atlanta. However, this functionality is also somewhat dependent on where you live. In big cities with lots of Waze users, the system works great, but your mileage may vary if you live in a rural area where Waze’s user-generated pins are hard to come by.

Google Maps has more search features

On the other side of the aisle, Google Maps offers a few perks of its own. For instance, Waze only shows roads and user data. On Google Maps, you’ll also see businesses and other points of interest. You can also search for things nearby. So, if you need a bathroom break, you can simply type in “fast food” or “gas stations” and you’ll be presented with a map and a list of locations in order of proximity. Waze offers this feature, too, but it’s a little more difficult to see what’s where and you won’t be able to see extra info like hours of operation or phone numbers.

Additionally, Google Maps doesn’t have ads, whereas Waze will occasionally try to persuade you to click something while you’re at a stoplight. Waze also contains sponsored destinations which will sometimes float to the top when you’re searching for your destination.

Another difference between the two apps is lane guidance. Google Maps will include arrows in its turn-by-turn directions that indicate the correct lane to be in during merges and exits, whereas Waze does not, yet. However, it’s worth noting that Google’s lane suggestions aren’t always accurate. When it works, lane guidance is awesome, but take it with a grain of salt and don’t treat it as a replacement for road signage.

As a professional driver, I’ve gotten to know Google Maps pretty well over the years and it’s still my go-to for navigation, but Waze’s die-hard fans are quick to point out its benefits. Personally, I use Google Maps for almost everything. The interface is simple and easy to understand, there’s plenty of useful information like business listings and hours of operation, and I really hate ads. On the other hand, Waze is great if you’re in a hurry or you loathe sitting in traffic. It offers better route customization and more detailed data.

Which app do you prefer?

Are you a die-hard fan of Waze or Google Maps? Do you use both? Let us know in the Comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our channel for great tips on Rideshare driving. Thanks for watching.

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