Google made waves when it bought Waze earlier this summer for a cool $1.1 billion, but the company said it would let the Israeli social traffic app roam free. That was then. Tuesday updates to Google Maps and Waze prove the two are slowly merging.
Google integrated Waze's real-time traffic reports with the Maps app, so iOS and Android users in the U.S. and a host of other countries (the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico among them) will now see detailed accident updates instead of simple "heavy traffic" notices. That was useful information, but knowing where and why those cars in front of you are backed up for miles is even better.
Waze reassured users on Tuesday that reports included in Google's Maps app won't show user profile information, and Wazers will still rack up points for traffic reports they submit and map edits they make. Waze relies on real-time, crowdsourced information, so it uses gamification to entice people to report road closures, accidents, and other major traffic issues they see on the streets.
Google's best features are also showing up in Waze on Tuesday. The app added the mighty Google Search to its stable of search providers, which already includes Foursquare and Yelp. Now Waze map editors will also have access to Google Maps Street View and satellite visuals to make maps more accurate. Prior to Tuesday's update, Waze users could submit text changes--like "X road doesn't cross Y street"--which were sometimes too vague to be useful.
Waze is getting more Google-y and Google Maps are getting the best of Waze, but the companies haven't announced plans to formally become one. The Federal Trade Commission is still investigating the deal under antitrust laws, so a unified mapping behemoth might be a ways off.
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