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Waze vs Google Maps: Which Is Better for Rideshare Drivers?

If you’re driving for Uber or Lyft, having a reliable navigation tool is essential. When you’re headed to pick up a passenger or transporting someone from point A to point B, every minute matters. The wrong navigation app can severely slow you down, while the right one can make every trip a breeze and ensure that you always get the highest possible driver reviews and best tips.

While there are a lot of navigation apps out there, two rise to the top: Google Maps and Waze. Both offer powerful navigation options to help you avoid traffic jams, take the fastest route possible, and always know where you’re going.

With two excellent options, which one should you choose? In this guide, we’re going to compare both apps to help you determine which is best for you as a rideshare driver. That way, you can spend less time testing map apps and more time making money by giving rides.

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Waze and Google Maps: An Overview

Let’s start with examining the basics of both apps, just in case you’re not familiar with them.

First released in 2006, Waze is the older of the two apps. It’s gained a reputation for being a reliable navigation app that incorporates user-generated information. For instance, if a user of the app has reported a speed trap ahead on your route, Waze will let you know. This same functionality also applies to traffic conditions, accidents, and anything else along your route that might slow you down.

Google Maps came out in 2008, a full two years after the Waze app. Despite getting started a bit later, the massive resources of Google have grown the app into a navigation powerhouse. While it’s great for driving directions, it also offers navigation features for public transportation, biking, and walking. The app also has great offline functionality, using your phone’s built-in GPS to help you navigate even when reception is spotty.

In many ways, Google Maps and Waze are similar. In fact, Google acquired Waze in 2013, though the two apps continue to operate separately and still have some important differences. So what exactly sets the two apps apart from each other? Read on for our comparison of key features.

Differences Between Waze and Google Maps

It’s tempting to think that Google Maps and Waze are the same, and that it doesn’t matter which one you choose as a rideshare driver. While both apps will provide you with accurate directions and information about real-time traffic conditions, they also differ in some important ways.

To start, there’s the way the apps incorporate information about current conditions. While Google has gotten better at showing traffic information, it still lags behind Waze. Because Waze uses information from actual users in real time, it’s able to show you more accurate information about how things are on the road (and provide appropriate rerouting). It’s therefore a more reliable source of information about conditions that might affect a rideshare pickup, such as construction, the presence of police officers, and road closures.

This isn’t to say that Waze is perfect, however. The main drawback of Waze is that it doesn’t work offline. This may not seem like a big deal, but seasoned rideshare drivers know how frustrating it can be to lose your data connection and suddenly be unable to navigate. If you have a passenger in the car or are on the way to pick them up, delays are unacceptable. The offline functionality makes Google Maps a more reliable choice.

Finally, the two apps differ in their interfaces. One isn’t necessarily “better” than the other, but the differences are apparent if you look at screenshots of the apps side-by-side:

Waze vs Google Maps: Which Is Better for Rideshare Drivers?

Waze (left) and Google Maps have noticeably different interfaces.

Overall, the Waze interface is more minimalistic than Google Maps. The app will have icons pop up to show you important information like the speed limit and hazards on the road, but it otherwise stays out of your way. Google Maps offers more information on the screen, which some people like and others don’t. Google Maps does offer a street view within its app, which can be handy if you’re not sure where to drop someone off, but the map view is generally more useful for rideshare trips.

Here are a few other key differences between the apps:

  • Waze integrates with Spotify, allowing you to change playlists or skip songs without having to leave the Waze app. Google Maps does not currently offer such a feature.
  • Google Maps has information about local businesses and even lets you see reviews. This isn’t generally important as a rideshare driver, but it can allow you to quickly look things up if a passenger has a question or you need to verify that you’re at the right pickup location.
  • Waze can show you information about nearby gas stations, including the best prices.

Waze vs Google Maps: Which Should You Choose?

Overall, we think that Waze is the best choice for rideshare drivers. While Google Maps is a more powerful navigation app overall, Waze has many features that are specially tailored for drivers. Google Maps is catching up in this area, but Waze is still the better source for viewing information about traffic and other things that can affect your route and travel time.

If you only do a little bit of rideshare driving and walk or take public transit during other times, then Google Maps might be a better choice for you.

Here are the download links for each app:

Waze vs Google Maps FAQ

Before we conclude this guide, here are answers to some common questions about Waze, Google Maps, and rideshare navigation in general.

1. What about Apple Maps?

If you have an iPhone, then Apple Maps is already built-in. It can be tempting to use it for getting directions while driving for Uber and Lyft. As you’ll quickly discover, however, Apple Maps is unreliable and simply less sophisticated than either Waze or Google Maps. Therefore, we don’t recommend it to rideshare drivers.

2. Which app uses more data?

In general, Waze uses more data than Google Maps. This is particularly true if you download maps of your area to your phone using Google Maps. Once you’ve done this, Google Maps can largely function offline. In contrast, because Waze relies so much on real-time information from its users, the app basically has to have a data connection. This results in higher data usage.

3. Is Google going to get rid of Waze?

This is a logical thing to wonder, as Google does own both apps and could theoretically take the best aspects of Waze, add them to Google Maps, and then get rid of Waze completely.

While this is possible, it’s unlikely to happen. Waze has a large, loyal following, and eliminating the app would make them unnecessarily upset. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about Waze going away, although don’t be surprised if it becomes more like Google Maps over time (and vice versa).

Start Navigating Today

We hope that this guide has helped you decide whether to use Waze or Google Maps as a rideshare driver. While Waze is our top pick, both apps are excellent tools and are unlikely to steer you wrong. Want to get more tips for ridesharing success? Check out our Uber driver training course.

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