|Stable release||3.9.1 (iOS);
188.8.131.52 (Windows Phone 8);
184.108.40.206 (Windows Mobile 6.x); / 20 November 2013
|Operating system||Android, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry OS (beta), iOS, Windows Mobile 5–6, Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1, Symbian, Maemo|
|Type||GPS navigation software|
|License||Software and Maps: Proprietary|
Waze (pronounced ways), formerly "Freemap", is a GPS-based geographical navigation application program for smartphones with GPS support and display screens which provides turn-by-turn information and user-submitted travel times and route details, downloading location-dependent information over mobile networks. Waze was developed in Israel, funded by early-stage American venture capital firm Bluerun Ventures, and was acquired by Google in 2013.
Waze won the Best Overall Mobile App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, beating Dropbox, Flipboard and others. On June 11, 2013, Google completed the acquisition of Waze for a reported US$1.3 billion. As part of the deal signed, each of Waze's 100 employees will receive an average of about $1.2 million, which represents the largest payout to employees in the history of Israeli high tech.
Waze supports Android, iPhone, Symbian, BlackBerry 10 (except BlackBerry Q10), Windows Phone 8 and Windows Mobile from version 5. In July 2013 Waze said that they were planning to support both iPhone and Android, and would consider supporting new platforms. As older platforms (Symbian, WM, BlackBerry) do not support either a full native UI or other application programming interfaces they rely on, they could not support them, although existing versions would continue to work. Currently, the Windows Mobile version is no longer working, as it is unable to connect to the routing server.
During 2006, a community project was founded by Ehud Shabtai - "FreeMap Israel". The aim of the project was to create, by the community users, a free digital database of the map of Israel, and to ensure its free content, update and distribution, for non-commercial usage, as convenient as possible. During 2008, the project website stated: “We have a new name and address. From now on, we are called Waze”. Parallelly, LinQmap was founded in Israel by Uri Levine, software engineer Ehud Shabtai, and Amir Shinar. During 2009, the company name was changed to Waze Mobile Ltd. In December 2011, Waze employed 80 people, composed of 70 at Ra'anana, Israel and 10 in Palo Alto, California.
In 2010, the company raised $25 million in the second round of funding. In 2011, the company, which planned to monetize through location based advertising and to expand into Asia, raised an additional $30 million in financing.
Acquisition by Google
Facebook and other companies were interested in purchasing Waze, but did not reach an agreement. In June 2013 Google bought Waze for $1.1 billion, adding social data to its mapping business. In June 2013 the United States Federal Trade Commission started considering whether Google's purchase of Waze might violate competition law—Waze was one of very few competitors in the mobile mapping sector to Google's own Google Maps. As of October 2013[update] the FTC has decided that it will not be challenging Google's acquisition of Waze. The UK Office of Fair Trading and the Israel Antitrust Authority are also investigating.
Waze differs from traditional GPS navigation software in that it is community-driven, gathering complementary map data and traffic information from its users. Like other GPS software it learns from users' driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. It is free to download and use. People can report accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, and from the online map editor, can update roads, landmarks, house numbers, etc. Waze also identifies the cheapest fuel station near a user or along their route, provided Waze has enabled gas prices for that country. As of January 2012[update], the app had been downloaded 12 million times worldwide. In July 2012 Waze announced that it had reached 20 million users, half of them recruited in the previous six months. According to Yahoo! there were nearly 50 million Waze users as of June 2013.
Waze can be used anywhere in the world but it requires a critical mass of users to have real utility; currently only 13 countries have a full base map, the others are incompletely mapped, requiring users to record roads and edit maps. As of 2013[update] Waze has a complete base map for the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Israel (claimed to be the best map for that country), South Africa, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Panama, but the company has plans to complete maps for other countries in Europe and elsewhere.
In addition to turn-by-turn voice navigation, real-time traffic, and other location-specific alerts, Waze simultaneously sends anonymous information, including users' speed and location, back to its database to improve the service as a whole. This crowdsourcing allows the Waze community to report navigation and mapping errors and traffic accidents simply by running the app while driving.[clarification needed] Waze uses gaming conventions to engage users and encourage them to provide more information, allowing them to "drive over" icons of cupcakes and other things to earn points. Waze also offers points for traffic or road hazard reports, which can be used to change the user's avatar, and to increase their status in the community.
In 2011 Waze Mobile updated the software to display real-time, community-curated points of interest, including local events such as street fairs and protests.
In June 2012 Waze launched an update to provide real-time fuel prices. As with all Waze real-time updates, prices are submitted by users, however this feature is not available in all countries.
Since November 2012, in monetizing its app, Waze offers resellers and advertisers a web interface to advertise based on locations where a small icon will appear on a given location for an interested Wazer to engage with the ads. It also offers to TV news stations a web interface to broadcast current traffic reports and alerts directly from the Waze app; the service had been used by 25 TV U.S. news stations by June 2013 It has also been used in Rio de Janeiro inside Centro de Operações Rio (Rio's Operations Center) since July 24, 2013, as well as in New York and New Jersey since 2012.
Safety and security risk
Some road-safety advocates have voiced concern over the prospect of more drivers using Waze, which they say has the potential to distract them with a flurry of icons and notifications and put them at greater risk of an accident.
In December 2014, in a letter sent to Google, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck complained about the police locator feature, claiming it could be "misused by those with criminal intent to endanger police officers and the community". It was alleged that Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who shot and killed two NYPD officers that month in retaliation for the police killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, had used the Waze app prior to the murders and had posted a screenshot from the app on his Instagram account hours before the shootings. Users are able to mark the presence of an officer with a small icon and indicate if the officer is visible or hidden. The LAPD, among other police agencies, pressured Google to disable the feature on the application. Google argues knowing the whereabouts of an officer actually promotes safer driving.
- U.S. Patent 7,936,284. System and method for parking time estimations. Issued May 3, 2011
- U.S. Patent 8,271,057. Condition-based activation, shut-down and management of applications of mobile devices. Issued September 18, 2012
- U.S. Patent 8,612,136. System and method for road map creation. Issued December 17, 2013, with priority date of August 27, 2008. This patent was mentioned in the class action suit filed in 2014.
The Waze v2.x software was distributed under GNU General Public License v2, which did not extend to map data. FreeMap data published under open content licenses was available before the Waze project began, but Waze CEO Noam Bardin felt that Waze was fundamentally different from projects like OpenStreetMap and was wary of map data licensing that would restrict commercialization of the Waze service. Starting with Waze v3 the program switched to a proprietary license. The last open source client version for the iPhone and Android is 220.127.116.11, and for Windows Mobile 2.0.
A class action suit was made in March 2014 by accountant Roey Gorodish against Waze, claiming intellectual property violation for the use of open-source FreeMap map and code from the open-source RoadMap software, a project which Ehud Shabtai had contributed for the Windows PocketPC version in 2006.
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