Crowdsourced navigation app Waze gets more social

Version 3.5 of the navigation program allows users to see friends driving in their direction, share updates about ETA, pick up friends, and sign in via Facebook. Because, of course, drivers don't have enough distractions.

Waze's update includes the ability to see what friends are going to your destination. Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET
Popular navigation app Waze rolled out an update with new social capabilities that makes it easer for users to find out where their friends are.

Version 3.5 of the app boasts a new design throughout, and it adds capabilities such as being able to see friends driving in a user's direction. It also makes it easy to share updates about ETA, as well as pick up friends and set spots to meet.

In addition, the app -- updated for Android and iOS -- now allows users to sign in via Facebook, send private messages, and look up useful links as they near their destinations, among other new features.

Waze had this to say, via a blog post:

You may be alone in the car while you team up with fellow Wazers to get the quickest route to where you're going. But so much of the time, you're on your way to meet up with others: Meeting friends at a concert, picking up a coworker for a meeting, or just driving home to join your family for dinner.

Your everyday experiences of driving together -- that's our inspiration for the latest version of Waze, which we're so excited to launch today.

The Waze app's initial focus was crowdsourced traffic, and it has evolved to offer full-blown, free navigation. Its social focus is something that other map apps -- like the one offered by Apple -- will have a difficult time duplicating. .

While navigation app makers were worried about the arrival of Apple's native Maps app, problems with electronic giant's technology and its spat with Google have turned out to be a boon to app developers. Waze, with about 30 million users, is one of the developers that has benefited amid the Apple Map backlash.

Waze's new capabilities are likely to appeal to drivers who want to locate their friends but avoid texting while driving. And people don't even have to have the app to view a live route map or find out a driver's ETA. Of course, users always control who sees them on Waze or even go invisible, the company said.

 

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