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When Google purchased Waze for roughly $1.15 billion in 2013, it was easy to assume that it would largely end up folded into Google Maps. But it looks as if Google has different plans for the mapping software. At Mobile World Congress this week, Waze announced that it would be included in the batch of apps that can be preinstalled on Android phones.
Obviously, now that Waze is an official Google Mobile Services app — joining apps like Gmail, Chrome, and Google Play — this leads to Waze possibly being pre-installed out of the box on future devices. But most Android phones already come with Google Maps, also a Google Mobile Services app, which is more than good enough for most users. This could lead to confusion and accusations of bloatware: Why does Google need to stick two different mapping apps on your device?
Waze actually has a couple of features that you won’t find on Google Maps, even though that app does track traffic as well. For instance, Waze recently added a feature called Places, which allows users to update or add information about places they’ve visited. Waze’s press release also points to its Connected Citizens program, which takes road reports from Waze users and passes them on to government departments, ostensibly to improve city efficiency. Waze still is best known for its feature that takes traffic into account when deciding the best route.
Google Maps taps into Waze data for its traffic reports, so users can benefit from Waze’s user reports without using the app. But Waze is much better at collecting reports than Google Maps is, and that’s probably why Google wants it on as many phones as possible.