Waze, a social community service which launched last year in the U.S. as a free turn-by-turn GPS app using crowd sourcing to detect real time traffic conditions is coming to Germany and France today. Map and traffic updates are automatically collected and generated as users drive with Waze activated, but drivers can also actively report and update other users with what's happening on the road including accident alerts, speed traps and more. And from today, German and French Waze users can benefit from a brand new road grid, localized UI and voice prompt and a road full of "goodies" to help new users rack up points as they help improve the navigability of the map in their areas.
Up until recently, users in Germany and France needed to record roads entirely from scratch. However, now Waze received access to a comprehensive set of German and French road grids, which the company will merge with data that local users have already contributed on their own and these communities will be off to a fantastic start. All that's missing in order to turn the grid into a fully functioning map is for local "wazers" to validate road directions by driving on the roads themselves, and to add road names via Waze's online map editor.
Starting today, French and German users will find that most roads will be marked with plenty of "road munching" dots - GPS points that, when driven over, set the road's direction, helping to increase map quality and navigability, while providing them with tons of extra points. The process of validation is incredibly quick - within just a couple of weeks, Waze plans that these maps will be fully navigable and highly accurate.
Waze will also add its "candy and cupcake road goodies" - small icons worth 3 and 5 bonus points, respectively - to the map in areas where the system needs validation.
Waze is available free of charge for Windows Mobile, Android and iPhone smartphones; a webOS version is yet neither available nor - according to Waze - planned. The localized version should be available later this morning.
Cheers ~ Arne