Sunday, March 11, 2012

Find your WAZE around…


So I’ve been around Kuwait for some time now, I know my way around for the most part and I’m pretty good at getting to places I’ve needed to get to with the worst directions that anyone can give (Some of my wife’s friends are notorious for that). I’ve got a great sense of direction and I DO NOT get lost easily, but sometimes you do need some help. In my earlier post about Kuwait Electronic Guide I showed you guys a website that can show you things in Kuwait that Google Earth/Maps cannot. Now I’m going to show you something for those of you with smartphones, and it is called Waze…




Waze is a free mobile navigation application available for Android, iOS and according to their site Blackberry and Ovi for Nokia phones as well but I can’t verify those last two. This app allows users to build and use live maps with real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn directions, all updated by the very same users that well… use it! Now, not all phones running those particular OS’s are supported and that was even true for my Galaxy S2 up until about December time frame. My main issue was that even though I could download it, I couldn’t sign up for some reason. So I waited until the next update and I was then able to sign up and start using it, and I’ve been using it ever since. I suggest you go to their site and find out what phones are being supported before downloading the app; I know that on the Android Marketplace they had the names of the phones that are supported when I downloaded it. Ok so this is what it looks like when you first start it up…
 Waze startup screen


It starts up pretty quickly and once it establishes a GPS and Data connection it will show you where you are on the screen and it will look something like this…
 Waze driving mode

Of course keep in mind that the screen will look different depending on where are at, these screenshots were taken as I was driving around town to demonstrate the app. While in this screen you will see 2 white squares, one on the left and one on the right and a speedometer (If you are on the move) telling you how fast you are going. If you press the white square on the left, you will get this screen…
 Waze menu screen

While in this screen you can choose either one of those categories, which are self-explanatory, but the one you need to worry about now is My Waze and of course Settings. Under the My Waze screen you can set up a profile and sign in so that you can start accumulating points for using Waze and for contributing to Waze by reporting things like accidents, cameras, hazards, traffic, missing roads or even Police locations. In reality just about anything you do in Waze is rewarded with points, which can then be turned in only (as far as I can tell) for better status icons.
 My Waze screen

 Settings screen

There is also the option to Navigate, where I’ve had no luck finding stuff around Kuwait yet. I’ve tried finding famous landmarks or places like shopping centers and even hotels with no luck. But I’ve had some luck with streets though, so right now it’s a hit and miss with this feature which looks like this…
 Waze Navigate screen

Going back and looking at the Reports tab will let you look at All reports or just the ones you want to look at such as Police, Traffic, Accidents, Chit Chats or Other…
 Waze Reports screen

While doing this piece only traffic and an accident had been reported and I happened to be driving by a speed camera, so that’s all I can show you now…
 Traffic report

 Heavy Traffic

 Moderate Traffic

  Speed cam

There is also the option to Share with (or tell) friends about this app using social networks…
Waze share screen

Now going back to the square on the right and clicking on it will take you to a window where you can make different reports…
 Report an incident to Waze users

Here you have the option to report…
Traffic Jams

Police

Accidents
Hazards
Camera

Have a Chit Chat

Map Issues

Pave Roads

Or check in using Foursquare

The program is supposedly works great in the United States but I won't be able to verify this until I go home on vacation, and although it doesn’t seem to be working fully here in Kuwait it does get the job done in many ways. I especially like how it can warn you of upcoming speed/red light cameras, but you have to be careful because since it is updated by the community it can have some mistakes.  I have found that not all cameras are where they are supposed to be, some are off by 200 meters or more and some are no longer there. I have tried many times to report these issues with no luck; hopefully someone that knows how is reading this and will let us know how to fix it. In the meantime, enjoy the many other features that do work and let’s hope that the developers fix these minor problems. Please let me know what you think of this app, and if you have some tips on how to use it feel free to share them here with us. Thanks again for coming by and see you next time!!

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