I would like to think I am pretty picky about choosing my iPhone apps. Before I go through the trouble of downloading one, I want to make sure I am going to receive maximum enjoyment/use out of it. Waze cleared the initial screening.
Waze is basically a traffic-management app. Once you sign in, you become a baby waze and are instantly plugged in to the traffic scene in your area. Traffic jams, police, accidents, road construction and traffic cameras are just a few of the incidents that are reported. There is even the ability to chat with fellow Wazers, but only if you are sitting in park. More on that in a moment.
I thought this was going to be a great find, that it was going to be the king of traffic apps. However, it solely relies on fellow Wazers to report these incidents. If you see a police car you are supposed to report it. If you run into congestion, the GPS feature will actually detect it and ask you to rate the traffic tie-up.
My fellow Wazers, however, are not very reliable when it comes to sending alerts. Police sightings are especially unreliable--and when I try to tell the system there is no longer a presence I usually run into a dead-end. Traffic-jam notifications are not much better.
I guess when you rely on other people to report conditions, you receive a haphazard attempt. And here is the kicker--the system will not allow you to chat while driving (a great feature, by the way), yet you are supposed to confirm alerts and report while in motion? There is no other way to do it, but oftentimes I find myself checking my phone for alerts, and it is certainly a distraction.
You also have a chance to earn points while driving. Once you accumulate your first 100 miles you shed the baby tag and have the opportunity to pick from a few "emoticons" to describe your day. I have not used the system long enough to see the benefit of these points. Perhaps that should have been my first clue that this app was more social than functional. Maybe I need to be a little more picky when choosing my apps.
Bill Wilson is the editorial director of ROADS & BRIDGES magazine and has been covering the industry since 1999. He has won seven Robert F. Boger Awards for editorial excellence, including three in 2011. He also was the creator of the Top 10, Contractor's Choice Awards and Recycling Awards platforms, as well as ROADS & BRIDGES Live.