Google Maps is already pretty awesome. From the redesigned web interface that integrates Google Earth, to the mobile applications for Android and iOS with free turn-by-turn navigation; from StreetView to transit directions – it’s arguably the best mapping solution on any platform, period. And it’s about to get even better.
Rumored for a little while, Google just announced yesterday that it will complete its acquisition of Waze, a mapping and navigation tool that’s updated by community members around the world. Waze users are not only able to edit maps when they find errors or new landmarks, but they are able to provide other users with real time traffic info based on their own usage. Google already does this itself, with self-updating traffic conditions based on data it receives from cities and municipalities, along with the driving data it collects automatically from other Maps users, but – as I’m sure many of you know – this data isn’t always the most up-to-date.
Waze will make Google Maps even better by adding in the traffic data from literally millions more users from around the world – and Maps will also benefit (presumably) from the edits that Waze members routinely make to maps, in order to make them more accurate. Waze will also benefit from Google’s expertise. Apple, Microsoft, and any other company that makes maps of their own should be nervous about this.
Google says that Waze development will remain separate for now, which means that the standalone Waze app probably isn’t going to go away any time soon. Instead, both products – Waze and Google Maps – will be able to share data and make their existing products even better. Eventually, Waze will probably be integrated completely into Google Maps, but fans of both services have a lot to look forward to right now. I know I’m excited![Google]