Free GPS Tracking Software That Can Help You Avoid Traffic Jams
Today I’ll be adding another article to my series of articles that showcase the many free cell phone tracking applications that are available for use in this day and age. Actually, today’s article will be a little bit different than many of the programs that I have written about in the past.
Today we’re going to be talking about a GPS cell phone tracking application that is not necessarily geared for the purpose of identifying the location of a particular cell phone. It’s more of a combination application that brings GPS tracking, GPS navigation, and the amazing social networking craze together into one, very convenient application.
I’ve always been a strong believer that in order to develop great software, there has to be a specific need for the particular software that is being developed. Whether you are developing software for the purpose of entertaining someone or for the purpose of providing a useful service, if you find a genuine need and build the software around it, people will find value in it and use it.
One thing that many people have in common these days is that they absolutely hate it when they get stuck in traffic jams. The application that we’re going to be talking about today is called WAZE and it’s designed to help drivers avoid common traffic pitfalls. The designers of this software have cleverly dubbed it a “social driving navigation app”. Follow along with me and you’ll see why I think they were very clever with the features they thought to include.
What Can The App Actually Do?
This app can be used for the purpose of using the GPS receiver in your cell phone to find your way from one location to another. It’s capable of giving you spoken turn by turn directions to your destination but that’s not what sets this application apart from other types of software in its class.
What sets this application apart is that it is designed to collect traffic information on all of the phones that it is installed and running on. The application is actually capable of recognizing whether or not you are stuck in traffic or whether you are traveling along at a normal rate of speed for the road you happen to be on.
Let’s talk a little bit about how this application can be useful to you and help make your commute to and from work a little less stressful. Wheneve you have the application installed and running on your phone and you are driving on a highway, the application knows that the normal rate of speed for that particular road is probably 55 MPH. If for some reason, you are traveling along this road at 20 miles an hour, the application is able to extrapolate that there must be some kind of congestion or problem with the flow of traffic on that particular stretch of the highway.
The more people who have the application installed and running on their phone, the more data this traffic monitoring service is able to accumulate. If people all over your city have the app installed and running, the more accurate the traffic reports will be. Users can then easily determine which route would be the best route to take if they want to avoid being stuck a long line of parked cars on the highway.
Okay, now you know a little bit about how the application can passively collect traffic data, let’s talk a little bit about how users of the application can utilize the social networking features of this software. If you remember the old movie called Smokey and the Bandit, you probably remember how the participants in this cross country motor vehicle race used their CB’s to “shout out” to other drivers about speed traps that they happened to come across.
“Smokey” is an old CB’ers nickname for a police officer. In the days before cell phones, it was quite common for people to use their CB radios to warn other drivers about speed traps or traffic jams. Many people used CB’s as their primary form of communication on the highway and any communications were heard by anyone who was close enough to receive the transmission. When cell phones replaced CB radios, this rudimentary early warning system sadly became a relic of the past.
How This App Is Breathing New Life Into An Old Idea.
The designers of the WAZE GPS traffic monitoring application are working to bring a similar form of traffic monitoring from the past back to life. As a matter of fact, they’ve affectionately named those who use their application as “Wazers”.
My favorite feature of the application is that the designers have figured out a way to breathe new life into the once popular traffic warning system by making use of today’s amazingly popular social networking phenomenon. Wazers who happen to drive past a speed trap can quickly mark the speed trap with their cell phone in the WAZE application. Then, any drivers who happen to be running the application as they are heading down that particular stretch of highway will receive an audible warning that says, “Speed Trap Ahead” from their cell phone. If you ask me, this is amazingly cool!
This is better than any radar detector that you can install in your car because the information is coming from real people. By the time your radar detector goes off, and it may be too late to slow down but the application is actually capable of notifying you early enough that you can slow down in time avoid getting a ticket.
Wazers can also easily share information about traffic accidents, traffic jams, road conditions, or other road hazards that they happen to come across. The designers of this application even created an integration between Facebook, foursquare, and Twitter. This makes it possible for the creation of what they’re calling “localize driving groups”.
Is The App Easy To Use?
The WAZE application is surprisingly simple to use. The developers of this software have documented it quite well on their website which is www.waze.com. Not only are there many features that are built right into the application which are readily available for use on your cell phone, I especially like that I can go to the WAZE website and see a “Live Map” of the area that I might be planning on traveling in. Users can simply enter the address or even the general area in which they plan on traveling and view a scrolling banner in the left sidebar of the screen that displays the most recent traffic alerts for that area.
You might be thinking to yourself that these user generated traffic reports sound great but who is actually going to take the time to report them and participate in making the service useful. If you are in fact asking yourself this question, you’ll be pleased to know that the developers of the software had you in mind when they were programming it.
Whenever you want to report a traffic problem, you can do so with a simple tap on your touch screen. Let me give you an example of how easy it is to do this on my HTC Thunderbolt which is an Android powered phone. I simply click Menu -> Report -> and then tap the type of report that I want to make. For example, just the other day, I was able to report a traffic accident for other Wazers to know about and it took me a grand total of 10 seconds to do so.
How Well Does This App Work In Reality?
While this application is able to passively collect date based on the number of users who are traveling on a particular road, it will be much more useful and successful as more and more people begin using it. The more drivers who have the app installed and running on their phone, the more passive data the service is able to collect. Although it’s true that more data results in more accurate traffic analysis and reporting, the addition of the “human element” is what makes this app the winner in my opinion.
I remember the days when my father and grandfather used to jump on the CB’s airwaves and warn nearby motorists about any “Smokey’s” that were hiding in the bush trying to catch speeders. As a matter of fact, I kind of miss those days. I actually get quite a thrill out of reporting a speed trap with the WAZE GPS traffic monitoring software.
Will This Application Work On Your Cell Phone?
Currently, the application will work on iPhones, Android powered phones, BlackBerrys, Nokia phones, and Windows Mobile powered phones. I have no doubt that as this app becomes more and more popular, we will see versions that support other types of phones spring to life.
Does This Application Have A Good Reputation?
I’m not sure what the reputation of the application is for other devices but for the phone that I use, which happens to be an Android powered cell phone, the application has a very good record. As a matter of fact, as of today, it has been downloaded over 46,000 times and has a score of 4.4 out of 5 stars on the Google Play website.
What Else Should You Know About This App?
Here’s a short four minute video made by the developers of WAZE that does a great job of elaborating on the features that I’ve talked about in this article today. If my article has peaked your interested about this app, I suggest that you take a few minutes and view this video. It’s really well designed and I think you’ll find it to be quite useful.
Where Can You Get The App?
You can download this app directly from the designers website. If you would like to take it out for a spin with you the next time you hit the road, you can click here to download it: Click Here to Download WAZE.
Like always, I would like to thank you for spending your valuable time reading this article on my website. Please take a second or two and tell your friends about it. I’m sure they’ll be thrilled that you took the time to share this information with them.