Waiting for an iOS6 fix or for a Google Maps app? Try Waze out.

A lot of virtual ink is being spilled over the iOS6 Maps inaccuracies, but please note these facts:

1 It’s free. It’s a day old. Relax.

2. Google will likely come to the rescue w/ an app soon, unless they just do not want to gain it’s Apple users  back.

3. Apple will likely fix it swiftly.

4. Lastly, there is waze (www.waze.com). A free GPS app w. social alerts. Think high tech. version of flashing your headlights when you notice oncoming drivers flying in to a constables trap. (If there are any law enforcement representation reading this I am speaking hypothetically and not making any suggestions.)

Disclaimer: I am not an beholden to either Android or Apple. In fact I keep an eye on the Windows 8 camp for signs of life as well. Competition is good. I have had a string of Android phones, Droid, Droid X and now Galaxy Nexus after a brief and infuriating one time ordeal with a Blackberry hockey puck touch screen thingamabobble preceded by some Windows phones in oldy times. I heart innovation like any good techie and I have long appreciated the simple, streamlined beauty of Apple’s products build quality and technology, but must feed baby first. Apple creations were a tad too rich for my wallet’s delicate constitution. Combine that with a screen that was not wide screen video friendly and no 4G and we have my current ownership of a Galaxy Nexus. Good phone. I also respect the Galaxy SIII as a next choice, but I am a fan of good industrial design and in my humble opinion the SIII is lacking in this area.  I appreciate the few advances over the Nexus, but I am not a fan of the color choices or plastic rich build materials. Purely a matter of personal taste. I almost purchased one until I held one in hand. I tend to avoid things that feel as if I can dismantle them with my bare hands, lest I do so accidentally on some later date.

iPhone, youPhone, we allPhone: I will likely be getting an iPhone next week, unless I change my mind. Main reason I believe I will be walking off with this little piece of post Jobsian wonderment next week is that they have addressed my short list of iPhone issues:

1. They went with a wide angle aspect ratio. Yes, I thought the 3.5″ screen was a tad small, but the compounding issue was letterboxing while watching wide angle video. This makes a small screen feel that much smaller. That will not do.

2. Now has 4G. I honestly cannot say I ever noticed the 3G to 4G bump the last time I upgraded phones, but I will not be going backwards thank you.

3. Reasonably priced. A base SIII and a base iPhone 5 are the same price. Life is good.

I went by Best Buy today to look at the iPhone 5. Wild horses could not drag me near a nearby Apple Store on the first day of sale. Let’s just say a little too Apple-ey for me. Plus Best Buy had no lines and Sprint and Verizon iPhone 5s at the ready for sale. On closer inspection I must admit the iPhone 5 had some things I really liked:

1. Snappy response time. Amazingly responsive even. Menu flips, app opening, etc…

2. The case is a slice of industrial design artwork. Makes some other competitors seem almost toy like in comparison.

3. Siri. Never fiddled with it’s first iteration, but this version of Siri impressed me. I have played with many Android voice recognition apps, Vlingo, Vlingo Labs (Beta), Dragon Go!, native Google voice recognition, and even a bootleg version of S-Voice. Nice try, but all left me wanting more, but Siri simply did what I asked. Quickly. No hands. First time I tried it.

So, you may ask, what about the busted iOS6 Maps app all over the interweb? Glad you asked. Don’t care. As lush and splendorous as Google Maps is with all of it’s accurate mapping, solid satellite images, and near infinitely amusing Street View I use Waze mostly on my current phone. So what has that got to do with the iPhone 5? Glad you asked. Waze is the Switzerland of smartphone apps:

It works across the board. Here are my other likes:

1. It’s free.

2. Navigation works. For example one recent Friday evening I was driving to Charlotte which I knew was about 90 minutes from where I was with traffic. Taking the easy route I used voice commands to navigate which defaults to Google Maps. Google Maps immediately declared the trip would take 2 hours and 30 minutes, or almost an hour longer. Not in the mood to investigate the why I started Waze which promptly stated a 90 minute estimate. And I arrived within a couple of minutes of that time. Also if there is an arrival time adjustment Waze will let you know on screen.

3. Alternate route is seamless. Charlotte traffic was epic. Many lanes were closed and evidently NASCAR was holding amateur tryouts because cars were crashing with disconcerting regularity. At one point before coming to a complete stop on I85 Waze barked at me to get off of the highway. It then took me across surface streets and lovingly deposited me back on I85 exactly at the end of the traffic jam caused by, you guessed it, a car accident.

4. Social alerts. I will spare you great detail, because the website does a great job of it, but suffice it to say that it is easy to add updates when you see traffic issues (car on shoulder, cop, construction, etc.) which then alerts other drivers running Waze. Very beneficial while commuting or in heavy traffic.

5. It learns your favorite commuting routes. Most navigation forces you one way unless you modify routing options. If you deviate from the suggested path Waze will pick up your queue and lead you down your preferred regular route to home, work, day care, etc. Navigation defaults to highway route for me to get to work for instance. After a couple of days ignoring Waze’s route it started giving me my preferred route.

6. Displays speed on screen.

7. It is free.

I am not going to tell you it is Google Maps, or even iOS6’s equivalent. It is not meant to be, because it is not concerned with eye candy. But, much like my brief experience with Siri it mostly just works. The color schemes are low key.  There is no fly over or street view eye candy. The search may not be as smooth as Maps on either other platform, but it is fully functioning navigation available right now. For free.


Free GPS for Apple and Android

I will report back if I get my iPhone 5 with my real world impressions.

-ELW

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