Waze is rolling out a number of new features starting today as Google’s own navigation app aims to counter the pandemic-induced decline in transportation demand.
The company, which acquired Google for more than $ 1 billion in 2013, made the announcements this morning during Waze On’s first virtual event. The announcement comes a week after news that 5% of the workforce has been cut and several offices have been closed. According to reports, some of the layoffs were due to emptier roads, and Waze itself reported back in April that 60% fewer kilometers had been driven following global closures.
A new “Travel Suggestion” feature, available to Waze users worldwide next month, shows user recommendations based on previous trips or locations they have recently visited. When they first start the app, they can see a list of the places they might want to visit again without having to enter the destination manually. Waze also shows an estimate of how long the trip should take based on current traffic conditions.
For Waze users, traffic alerts will also be launched worldwide next month, automatically warning drivers about the likely impact of traffic on journeys to their favorite or recent destinations. This also works with planned trips, a feature Waze introduced last year that allows drivers to set warnings for one-off trips.
Traffic alerts work when Waze detects the roads are heavy enough to affect travel times and a warning appears on the lock screen.
In a development that has been a long time coming, Waze has been testing a new tracking function in beta for several months. With this function, the drivers find out which lane they have to be in for a turn or a motorway exit. It’s an incredibly useful feature that has been around on Google Maps for a long time. Waze said it had already started rolling lane guidance and the feature should be available to more users soon.
Waze is adding a number of new features to its integrated car pool service, available in the United States, Brazil, Mexico, and Israel. This includes “Auto Approve” which allows car owners to automatically accept driving requests without messing around with the app, and drivers can select “Instant Booking” to receive automatic confirmation that their request has been accepted.
A new “real-time driving” feature, due to roll out in Israel later this month, followed by other Waze carpooling markets, gives drivers the ability to receive notifications at the start of their journey if drivers want to drive anywhere along the driver’s route.
This feature could allow Waze Carpool to reach more users by attracting drivers who may not have been actively searching for passengers. Waze also works with third-party transport apps like Moovit to allow users to search for Waze drivers.
Other new features include Google Assistant support for French, Spanish, and Portuguese, which will be available later this year. English has been supported since last year.