CarPlay Navigation

Waze deserves to be your default navigation for CarPlay

We write about Apple Maps quite often here at CarPlay World, but not often about Waze. Waze is a navigation alternative to Maps. You must download it from the App Store, it’s not on your iPhone by default, like Maps is.

If you are like most drivers, you want to avoid traffic as much as possible. Major cities like Seattle, New York, and Los Angeles are now experiencing some of the heaviest traffic in American history. This is because of a variety of factors but it all boils down to the rapidly rising populations in urban and suburban areas. There are probably a lot more people driving around in your city than there were five years ago or even then there were last year. You are bound to have longer drives to get around.

Luckily the software developers at Waze have been doing their best to save you from that dreaded daily commute. An increasing number of drivers choose to share their location data with Waze through Google Maps, which has given Waze an abundance of data references for some of the most accurate real time navigation processing in history. The clever data processing software found in the Waze app currently has no equal at least on commercial app stores.

Google Maps and Apple Maps which are very popular navigational apps do not offer the real time updates Waze can give you. This is because Waze emphasizes community reporting while other mapping software rely on trusted users’ updates which are much slower. Conventional navigational systems are almost designed in an unrealistic bubble because driving environments are always subject to change and need rapid updating for effective mapping.

For example, when a Waze user reports speed traps, potholes or accidents that information is added to the real time community map much faster than on Google Maps or Apple Maps. After a recent IOS update Waze is available on the highly popular CarPlay system and can actually be configured as the default navigational app! Here are the steps to get that done and save yourself from another wasted day in traffic.

• Download the Waze app onto your iPhone
• Navigate to your iPhone’s General Settings tab
• Select Apple CarPlay from the list of options
• Open your cars custom CarPlay settings
• Tap on more apps and scroll down to Waze
• Use the green plus sign to add Waze to your list of apps
• Use the horizontal triple lines to slide Waze to the top of your app list

Once you are able to set Waze as the preferred mapping software for your Apple CarPlay experience you will never want to go back. There are an abundance of online user reviews rating the Waze app extremely positively. Many reviews stress the significance that community reporting brings to mapping software. One reviewer compared it to AdBlock stating “It’s like you literally get to avoid traffic and accidents like your using AdBlock to skip commercials on YouTube”. And other ones praised the simplistic, yet visually appealing user interface Waze is famous for. It’s no secret that most smartphone users credit Waze as the most effective mapping software ever created.

CarPlay Apps CarPlay Navigation

Using Waze on CarPlay

If you want to take advantage of one of the most useful crowdsourced navigation tools out there, then you’ll love how Waze gives you information in real time. For many years now, I’ve enjoyed using Waze even back when it was just an app on my phone. Waze is not only free, but it is also one of the only crowdsourced GPS navigation apps around. The crowdsourcing information helps provide you with warnings about various things you might incur on your route.

For awhile now, most of us have only been able to use Waze with our iPhones out. With so many states passing hands-free laws and with all of the additional emphasis on safety while driving, that didn’t always make using Waze as effective and easy as it could have been.

Waze and Apple’s iOS 12 Update

However, Apple’s new iOS 12 update now allows Waze to work with Apple CarPlay, making Waze compatible with over 400 vehicles that come with CarPlay. That’s a major break for all of us on the planet that love Waze while we navigate. Now, we can safely use Waze by connecting to it on CarPlay.

Apple is now allowing CarPlay to use third-party navigation apps, so people are no longer reduced to just Apple Maps on their CarPlay systems when driving from point A to point B. Now you can integrate Google Maps as well. Interestingly, Google purchased Waze back in 2013.

Waze’s Benefits

Waze provides users with several benefits. One of my favorite benefits offered by Waze is something that makes the app so unique—that is, the crowdsourcing features. Other drivers provide data in the app that help you avoid accidents, potholes, floods, stopped cars, speed traps, and red-light cameras along your route. You’ll also get warnings if there are police located anywhere near you.

Waze offers a community feel behind the way it works. So, if you feel like helping out your fellow drivers in return by reporting any obstacles you incur on your trip, you’ll just be returning a few favors. However, the crowdsourcing aspect behind Waze provides a lot of beneficial suggestions to avoid safety hazards while driving, making Waze a great app to use while driving.

How to Replace Apple Maps with Waze on CarPlay

So, if you want to get started with Waze on CarPlay, how do you do it? Don’t worry. We’ve got the steps below to help you set-up Waze correctly on CarPlay. You’ll be using the helpful crowdsourcing app in no time. You’ll need to replace Apple Maps with Waze on CarPlay, so really, these steps are about setting up your navigation options.

  • First, make sure you get the iOS 12 update on your iPhone. You also need to download Waze 4.45.4 or higher.
  • Tap on “Settings” on your iPhone.
  • Next, tap on “General” on your iPhone.
  • Then, tap on “CarPlay” on your iPhone.
  • Select your vehicle once you are in the CarPlay area of your iPhone.
  • Swipe to the second page of apps.
  • Tab and hold Waze down.
  • Then, move Waze to your Home screen.
CarPlay Apps CarPlay Navigation

Things that Bug Me about Waze

Bug bug bug bug bug bug bug

You can’t simply tap a point on the main screen and “go there”. You can on your iPhone, but that defeats the whole point of CarPlay, namely, stay off your phone.

There’s no upcoming turn warning, or alert. At least, there’s no obvious way to enable this. I’m going to go out for a drive in an hour and I’ll update this post after I change some Waze settings. On the other hand as an example, Apple Maps not only gives you warning about an upcoming turn (or merge, or whatever), it will buzz your Apple Watch if you’re wearing one.

Maybe this will give me alerts to turn…

Let’s be honest: Waze speech comprehension is terrible. I have my son type in destinations.

I go through the same intersection every day for weeks and I get Red Light Camera warning each day, one on the way in, one on the way out. I don’t know this is a complaint, it might be an observation. Whatever the case, it mysteriously stopped after about three weeks. Hm.

Despite all this, I like and use Waze. It’s my #1 nav app because it gets me where I’m going fastest.

CarPlay Apps CarPlay Navigation

The State Capitol Test: Which Map App Wins?

Maps are Great Mmkay. Now Let’s Get to Testing Them.

Now that we’ve got choices (plural!) for maps on CarPlay, the testing and evaluation floodgates have opened and we at CarPlay World couldn’t be happier.

We love this [CarPlay] stuff.

When Google Maps and then Waze became available with iOS 12 in September, we settled into a fairly constant mindset of switching between them every few days to pick the best for our specific manner of driving and locating destinations. See our Apple Maps vs. Waze comparison to get an idea of how we approach maps/mapping/getting to where you’re going in CarPlay.

How do you test the three mapping apps for accuracy? Why, you say a destination and watch them work. The goal is to have as few distractions and as little further human input as possible — after all, you are driving.

It’s not the Journey, it’s uh… The Destination

Colorado State Capitol
200 E Colfax Ave, Denver, CO 80203

This test is so easy. For humans. For computers however,  phones included, “state capitol” — our search phrase for this test — is hard… it’s not a “proper noun” business, like for instance “Starbucks”. My phone and these mapping apps have to do some extra work. In this case, they have to know which state I’m in before they can do the rest of the mapping calculations. And they have to know I’m looking for the state capitol… that I’m looking for a single location.

Apple Maps: Pass

Understood the request? Yes

Remembered the request? Yes

Result: Passed

After the dictation, I was given a choice screen to pick the correct destination. Subsequent “state capitol” voice commands didn’t elicit this choice — it just became my destination. Nice.

By remembering my request, we avoid — excuse the pun — an extra “round trip”. Next time, Apple Maps won’t offer me a choice, and I don’t need to involve myself in choosing. Remember, I’m driving.

Waze:  Fail

Understood the request? No

Remembered the request? N/A

Result: Failed

Waze just didn’t get it. Literally, I heard “I didn’t get that” or some variation repeatedly while saying “state capitol”. It was all for naught. To a passerby I probably looked like a lunatic: enunciating “state capitol” loudly and clearly, over and over, to my car’s interior.

I tried speaking normally at the first go. “I’m not sure I understand”. STATE CAPITOL. “I didn’t get that.” STATE. CAPITOL. “I’m not sure I understand.” Etc.

The closest I got with Waze with the evil “state capitol” verbal driving directions test

I tried about ten times, then gave up and used “Colorado state capitol”. That worked. I used the same test environment as the Apple Maps test: driving around 25 MPH, no music playing, normal road/traffic noise, windows up. I even tried when stopped at a light to eliminate the already very low ambient road noise. 

After failing (after eight attempts it obviously wasn’t a matter of how I delivered the words), I relented and gave Waze the “Colorado state capitol” gimme, and that worked.

Google Maps: Fail

Understood the request? No

Remembered the request? N/A

Result: Failed

Google Maps acted a lot like Waze in its failure. It’s probably no coincidence, because Waze became a Google company in 2013. Five years is enough time to cross-pollinate them so they use the same engine, or at the very least, use many of the same methods to do their work. Which is why we see them fail similarly.

Kinda promising…

Both apps got in trouble not in hearing or parsing my phrase, but by failing to understand that I was looking for, simply, the Colorado State Capitol building. This isn’t a display, UI or mapping problem, it’s a “deep” AI problem.

But can we stop to get beef jerky?
After the cheat word “Colorado” is given…
CarPlay Apps CarPlay Navigation

Apple Maps vs. Waze

Like the Waze news we reported over the summer, Waze is on CarPlay! As part of the iOS 12 update, Apple opened mapping to 3rd party apps. Google Maps was on the next day. Waze followed a few days later. So before you switch, you might want our breakdown on Apple Maps vs. Waze.

After Google Maps appeared on CarPlay as part of iOS 12, Waze has now become available as a navigation alternative on Apple’s CarPlay. Follow along for how to replace Apple Maps with Waze on CarPlay.

Waze is a popular choice for navigation with its smart routing features based around crowdsourcing data from its users. Known for its real-time traffic reports, users get alerts on upcoming police officers, construction, accidents, and more.

It also features the ability to toggle a light or dark mode and change the appearance of your “car” in the app.

So how does Waze compare to the native Apple Maps? We show you in this Apple Maps vs. Waze on CarPlay feature list:

Apple Maps Waze
touch-drag car display yes yes (laggy)
double tap to zoom yes no
voice destination entry yes yes
automatic dark mode at night yes no yes*
on screen keyboard entry no yes
situational reporting no yes
hazard alerts yes yes
police alerts no yes
heavy traffic alerts ? yes
output voice on or off on, alerts only, off
output voice choices
yes, globally on the iPhone
end guidance term “End” “Stop”
alternate routes only if heavy traffic
yes, tap the double arrow icon at top
alternate route live suggestions yes yes
3D visuals yes no
best time to leave no yes

* UPDATE Initially, we had this marked “no”, because activating the headlights did nothing to change the mode. Interestingly, Waze’s dark mode is keyed (no pun intended) to the time of day. Apple Map’s dark mode is keyed to the position of the headlight switch. Ostensibly, Waze’s dark mode would be region specific, because sunset moment occurs at different times across the globe.

CarPlay Apps CarPlay Navigation

Waze Coming to CarPlay!

You want Waze? You got Waze. Waze is coming to CarPlay when iOS 12 is released, probably this September.

This update will also allow Google Maps in CarPlay, and possibly other, lesser-known navigation apps.

This is huge news for those of us who have thought that Apple Maps was a little behind in terms of accuracy and features. We like Waze because it’s fantastic at showing police speed traps, traffic jams, accident locations… all the things that you want to know about when driving, in other words.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

We were resigned to using Maps here at CPW, knowing that Apple traditionally protects its flagship apps by limiting what’s allowed in the CarPlay interface. We were certain Apple would never allow Maps to have to fend off competitors. Certain.

So this news comes as a very large shock to us. But a very welcomed shock! We believe competition is a driver, no pun intended, of awesome results in software in general and CarPlay in particular.

Waze: Go through this guy's living room - 17 minutes
Waze: Drive through this dude’s living room – 17 minutes