App-a-Day: Waze

Thursday 4-30-2015

Happy Thursday everyone. Sadly, for those of us in the US, we are still living in a pre Avengers 2 world. One more day is too long to wait.. Tomorrow needs to be a national holiday.

Speaking of holidays, let's talk about today’s app, Waze. What does Waze have to do with holidays you ask? Everything! (or nothing… I needed a transition) -_-

Anyways, the theme I'm going with this week is to feature apps that I use most often, and boy do I use Waze a lot.. So much in fact, that I was bestowed the prestigious title of Royalty Wazer! Wooo! Looks like I made it!

Yep, no kidding, that’s an actual screenshot from my Waze app. Amazing, I know..

Ok, so for those of you who don’t know what Waze is all about, It’s a very well-designed turn-by-turn navigation app that offers a wide array of useful features ranging from a history section that syncs with your calendar, to automatic real-time ETA statuses of friends who are driving to the same destination as you.

Indeed, the Waze app has many powerful features, but the real magic comes from seamless integration and leveraging technology to enhance the overall user experience. And one other thing, they gamified it!

Gamification is the concept of adding gaming elements into traditionally non-gaming activities or processes to improve engagement and increase user retention. The idea is to take something inherently boring (say, driving to work for example) and making it into a fun and/or competitive game.

The Waze app is gamified so that users get points for driving while using the app, reporting traffic/road related statuses, submitting map inaccuracies, reporting police sightings… etc. Basically, the more you use the app and the more active you are within it, the more points you get. In addition to these basic game elements, Waze also does occasional special ‘game within a game’ type events where users can rack up extra points when they drive over virtual objects (basketball, soccerball, candies.. etc) that appear to be randomly placed throughout the map. It’s sort of like an augmented reality version of Pac-Man you play while driving.. Pretty sweet!

Now, there are a number of reasons why Waze is by far my favorite navigation app. Great design; the UI is simple and intuitive; designed to enhance the driving experience. Powerful features; it automatically saves your previously used addresses and will often (with great accuracy i might add) predict where you’re going before you even enter anything. Using the power of a connected driving community, Waze provides real-time, updated feedback on your ETA and upcoming traffic reports. All that is cool.. But most importantly, in my opinion, Waze blows the competition away by subtly transforming the often boring, stressful, and monotonous act of driving from A to B into an playful and serendipitous gaming experience.