Is it a commute or a video game?

I saw a review of Waze in a blog post by The Unofficial Apple Weblog and while they were a bit cool on it as a navigation app, it is free and has an interesting take. I picked up a Kingston windshield mount which replaced where I had my GPS so am in the market for a GPS app for my iPhone. The reality is, however, that in spite of my frequent time in my car, it’s really just to and from work (all 500+ miles per week). Obviously, I know how to get to work so I can’t justify a significant expense. Since Waze is free, it was a clear choice to give a spin.

The program uses a map that is fed over the phone’s data connection and is community driven. Anytime you drive on a road that hasn’t been traversed before, you “munch” dots much like Pac Man which verifies the geometry and your speed and is uploaded to their servers which is then fed back to others as traffic information for routing alternatives. You can also point out specific traffic problems, speed traps, or even just “chit chat” which can be viewed by other users. As you munch roads, provide updates, or just confirm traffic, you get points and your points determine your ranking. I never thought that driving around would count for anything.

The website allows you to view your routes or edit the dynamic map (presented much like Google’s) to add new roads and update other aspects (house numbers, name, road connections, etc.).

The downside, is that currently the maps have some trouble with accuracy but that presumably will improve as more users use it and especially if they update it from the website. The navigation app is a little rough as well with its presentation but that’ll hopefully improve as well.

It’s a decent little app and a creative service. Back to road munching. I wonder how many points are needed for an extra life?

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