Waze brings free turn-by-turn GPS to Android

Waze offers driver-generated mlive aps and real-time road information for free.

Waze is one of the first apps to offer free driving directions. Taylor Wimberly

Waze is an innovative new GPS app for Android that supplements Census Bureau maps with user-generated data. This social approach to road conditions offers a new level of data that is not possible with other GPS services.

Just imagine your daily commute to work. Though you may have the best route down to a science, significant delays can affect even the best-laid plans. Fortunately, that's where Waze comes into play.

By utilizing real-time information from others, Waze can optimize your drive time and help you make informed decisions. It provides helpful information such as speed traps, accidents, and road construction. While some of this information can be found on your local news, it is often outdated and useless by the time your hear it.

Waze users can contribute information in a number of ways. By simply driving with the application open, your GPS trace points are recorded and used to detect traffic conditions and fix map problems. More active users can report accidents, road construction, and speed traps, which will be recorded and passed on to other users. If local roads are missing from the map, you can add them yourself.

Waze also offers many community features. When you report an accident or road condition, other users can reply with their own comments and photos (for safety, text input is disabled when your car is moving). Each time you contribute information, you will accumulate points for determining your user ranking.

But the best part about Waze is the cost. It is free to download and there are no subscription charges or any hidden fees. Any Android user can install the application in minutes and begin using it.

Even in its early alpha stage, the benefits of Waze outweigh the bugs. It's not quite ready for prime time, but if you're looking for free turn-by-turn directions, give Waze a try. Be sure to visit the official forums as well to offer your feedback and help improve the application.

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