|Original author(s)||Waze Mobile|
|Initial release||2006(as FreeMap Israel)|
|Available in||40 languages|
|Type||GPS navigation software|
|License||Commercial proprietary software|
Waze (//; formerly FreeMap Israel) is GPS navigation software that works on smartphones and tablets with GPS support. It provides turn-by-turn navigation information and user-submitted travel times and route details, while downloading location-dependent information over a mobile telephone network. Waze describes its app as a community-driven GPS navigation app, which is free to download and use.
The app was first developed and popularized by Waze Mobile, an Israeli company founded by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine, funded by two Israeli venture capital firms, Magma and Vertex, and an early-stage American venture capital firm Bluerun Ventures. Waze Mobile was acquired in 2013 by Google.
In 2006, "FreeMap Israel" was a project founded and developed by Israeli programmer Ehud Shabtai as a community project, which aimed to create, with the crowd sourcing assistance of community users, a free digital database of the map of Israel in Hebrew, and to ensure its free content, update and distribution. In 2008, Shabtai formed a company called Waze to commercialize the project. The company name was changed to Waze Mobile Ltd in 2009.
In 2010, the company raised $25 million in the second round of funding.
In 2011, the app was updated to display real-time, community-curated points of interest, including local events such as street fairs and protests.
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.
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 has offered resellers and advertisers a web interface to advertise based on location, where a small icon appears when a phone is at a particular location, prompting the user to engage. 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.
In March 2017, Spotify announced its partnership with Waze to give an integrated experience where Wazers could play music on Spotify directly from Waze app and get Waze directions on Spotify app on the Android platform. Six months later, the feature was made available on the iOS platform.  
In May 2017, Waze introduced the ability for users to record their own voice navigation prompts.
Subsidiary of Google (2013-present)
According to rumors, Facebook and other companies were interested in purchasing Waze, but did not reach an agreement. In June 2013, Google bought Waze for a reported $1.3 billion, adding social data to its mapping business. It was later revealed that the price was actually US$966 million. As part of the deal, each of Waze's 100 employees was to receive an average of about $1.2 million, the largest payout to employees in the history of Israeli high tech.
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. The FTC decided that it would not challenge Google's acquisition of Waze. The UK Office of Fair Trading and the Israel Antitrust Authority also investigated it and allowed the acquisition.
Following the acquisition of Waze, Google submitted a "10-Q" filing with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) that revealed that the corporation spent $1.3 billion on acquisitions during the first half of 2013, but that the Waze acquisition cost Google $966 million, instead of the $1.1 billion figure that was initially presented in media sources.
Waze collects map data, travel times and traffic information from users and transmits it to the Waze server, at no cost to Waze. Waze users ("Wazers") can report accidents, traffic jams, speed and police traps, and, from the online map editor, can update roads, landmarks, house numbers, etc. Waze sends anonymous information, including users' speed and location, back to its database to improve the service as a whole.
Based on the information collected, Waze is then in a position to provide routing and real-time traffic updates. Waze can also identify the cheapest fuel station near a user or along their route, provided Waze has enabled fuel prices for that country.
Waze can be used anywhere in the world but requires enough initial users to create the maps and continuously update data to make it useful. Currently only 13 countries have a full base map; the others are incompletely mapped, requiring users to record roads and edit maps.
Waze offers turn-by-turn voice navigation, real-time traffic, and other location-specific alerts. Waze encourages users to report traffic or road hazards by offering points. Add-ons expand the functions and personalize this interaction with the app. For example, add-ons can integrate Foursquare and Facebook friends to Waze or notify the user when driving through a high-crime area.
In 2017, an option was added for motorcycle users, as well as specialized routes for people eligible to drive in carpool lanes.
Waze supports Android and iPhone, while Symbian, BlackBerry 10 (except BlackBerry Q10), Windows Phone 8 and Windows Mobile from version 5 were deprecated. In July 2013, Waze said they planned 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 claimed they could not support them any more, although existing versions would continue to work.
Interaction with government
Waze invented and initiated the connected citizens program (CCP), a free data sharing program used by over 200 governments, departments of transportation and municipalities for traffic analysis, road planning and emergency work force dispatching. Waze both contributes to government data and also collects government data to use.
In 2014, Rio de Janeiro started collecting data for its traffic management system. Rio collects real-time data both from drivers who use the Waze navigation app and pedestrians who use the public-transportation app Moovit. Rio was also talking to the owners of cycling app Strava to monitor movements of cyclists. It was noted that though initially the data the apps were sharing was all anonymous, more specific identifying details were possible, if people agreed to being monitored through their smartphones if they saw benefits for them.
Concerns have been expressed that the app located on smartphones can be used to monitor movements by identifiable individuals.
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 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 states that knowing the whereabouts of an officer promotes safer driving.
Patents and licensing
Waze Mobile Ltd holds several patents, including:
- 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 was not published under open content licenses even before the shift to Waze project. Ehud Shabtai who initiated and developed Freemap and Waze continuously insisted to crowdsource data without using external sources or projects like OpenStreetMap that would restrict commercialization of the Waze map data. Starting with Waze v3 the application was rewritten and as such 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 filed 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 that Ehud Shabtai had contributed for the Windows PocketPC version in 2006. The lawsuit was dismissed on March 5, 2017 with a clear cut decision that there was no basis for a class action suit in this case.
One of the unique aspects of Waze is the ability to direct users based on crowdsourced information. Waze users are able to report a multitude of traffic related incidents from accidents to police traps. This data is used by Waze to help other users either by alerting them of the condition ahead or even rerouting the user to avoid the area entirely. In addition to user input, Waze also relies on information from state agencies for traffic events such as road construction. The idea behind this is, the more people who provide data the more accurate it will be.
In addition to using crowdsourced information for traffic alerts, Waze also allows registered users to modify the map data itself through the Waze Map Editor. Map editors are allowed to make changes to the map based on where they have driven while using Waze as well as their rank which is based on how many map edits a user has made.
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- Waze - News - GCR - Global Competition Review Global Competition Review
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- Waze Support, Quick Help. Type "Future Waze versions" in search box. Shows "Future Waze versions and operating systems". States that current versions for WM, BB and Symbian will remain available.
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