Before intuitive technology emerged, all you had was the old fashioned map and your sense of direction. When GPS arrived on the market, driving changed entirely. But what really stepped up the driving game was the outbreak of navigation apps.

Now, using Google Maps or Waze, you get pretty much any information you need — directions, shortcuts, indications to avoid heavy traffic, warnings about traffic jams and temporary road changes. Driving with a navigation app is similar to having a responsible copilot  — it makes driving a lot easier. 

The undeniable leaders of traffic assistance are Google Maps and Waze. But deciding which one is better for ridesharing is a tough choice, as they have similar features and the same parent company, Google. What makes them different is how they approach navigation. 

The main differences between Google Maps and Waze

Although they serve the same purpose, to make navigation easier for drivers, Google Maps and Waze each have their strengths, as shown in the table below.

Feature Google Maps Waze
Traffic and hazards
Time saving
Speed traps  
Car refueling
App interface
Data usage
Hands-free control

While both apps are great to get you quickly through city’s traffic, Google Maps is the more comprehensive navigation service, while Waze is the real-time road assistant. 

Google Maps is like a traditional GPS — its goal is to get you from A to B using the smartest route. With its latest updates, Google Maps uses numerous factors to offer you the best route, such as real time traffic conditions, number of street lights, and avoiding road tolls. 

Waze takes all that into consideration and many more. Constantly analyzing road conditions, it gives you directions midway through for getting you there as fast as possible. 

Example using directions from London’s Picadilly Circus to the Splend office: 

Waze offered multiple routes, the best being a 7 miles trip that would take 33 minutes. Google Maps offered a similar route in distance (6.9 miles) but the ETA was 43 minutes. They’re displaying almost the same route, but Waze knows a few turnarounds that will save you 10 minutes — precious time in ridesharing. 

Both services detect road conditions from the number of users on the road. However, compared to Waze, Google Maps doesn’t change your route in order to avoid traffic hazards.

Google Maps vs Waze: Traffic hazards

Being a community-based service, Waze allows drivers to provide live data about traffic hazards. Any accident, traffic incident, speed limit or speed trap will pop-up on your screen when put up by a driver. 

Google Maps has also recently included this feature. However, because Google Maps uses historical data and Waze uses live data, the first isn’t that accurate when it comes to on-the-spot incidents. 

Google Maps vs Waze: Time saving

Google Maps doesn’t aim to give you the shortest route, but rather the fuel-efficient one. Waze’s main purpose is to get you from A to B in the shortest time possible. Thanks to the live data used, Waze suggests switching the original route multiple times during your ride, if that implies saving time. If you don’t mind frequent turns, Waze is the ideal choice to get the fastest route. 

Google Maps vs Waze: Discovery

It depends a lot on your interests. Without any doubt, Google Maps offers more information overall and has more resources than Waze. But when it comes solely to driving, Waze is still the unbeatable choice. 

If you’re seeking local destinations or specific information about businesses, Google Maps is the better help. You can find information about businesses nearby on both apps, but Google Maps includes business data such as menus, schedules, phone numbers, while Waze does not. 

Moreover, Google Maps is the only choice if you want to see available routes using public transport, cycling or walking. Waze is pretty much just for cars. 

Google Maps vs Waze: Speed traps

Both apps have warnings when exceeding the speed limit. However, Waze is still the leader of real-time notification. Users can live report if they get by any speed trap with Waze, so you know when to slow down.

FUN FACT: A user actually tested this feature on both apps. On the same route, Google Maps detected only two speed cameras on a 45 miles trip to London, while Waze got every single one.

Google Maps vs Waze: Car refueling

Both apps are great for finding a place to fill up your car. If you’re seeking gas stations, Waze takes the lead. The app displays real-time gas prices data, provided by users. But when talking about EV charging, Google Maps is superior. Waze introduced this feature a little while ago, while Google Maps has had it since 2018. 

DID YOU KNOW? Google Maps filters the stations by charger type, it shows you which stations are currently in use, and can even help you plan trips around EV charging stations.

However, for a more accurate EV charging stations locator, you can use one of the best EV apps in London. 

Google Maps vs Waze: App interface

Google Maps uses a pretty traditional interface, while Waze has a sleek and minimalistic one. Most drivers prefer the Waze interface, because it’s simplified and user friendly. It also gives more customization options, particularly in voice changing. While this might not be the main criteria when choosing your preferred app, it adds to the overall user experience. 

Google Maps vs Waze: Data usage

Here’s where Google Maps definitely takes over. You need permanent data connection to use Waze. With Google Maps, you can download the map for a location, switch data off and navigate offline. This can save you lots of mobile data and phone battery. It’s also a good back-up plan if you run out of service.

DID YOU KNOW? Google Maps offline doesn’t provide any data regarding traffic hazards.

Google Maps vs Waze: Hands-free control

This aspect is a crucial one, since rideshare drivers mostly use their phone and navigation app without actually touching the device. Both apps operate their hands-free control in the same way — you can tap the on-screen microphone and say a command or rely on your voice assistant, Google Assistant or Siri.

TIP: Make sure to use a specific voice command for Siri, like “directions home with Waze”, because its implicit navigation app is Apple Maps.

There isn’t any difference in performance in terms of hand-free control, so we’ll keep this one as a tie.

Google Maps vs Waze: Availability

No matter the device you’re using, you can find both apps pretty much anywhere. They’re available on AppStore and Google Play and are compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Google Maps has a slight advantage on cars with built-in Android system, coming as a pre-installed app, meaning it works flawless. Since this difference is minor and applies only to several cars, we’re also keeping this one as a tie.

Google Maps vs Waze: Customisation

In terms of voice options, Waze is the undefeatable leader. Google Maps typically has one voice option per country or region, while Waze has plenty of them, especially for English language. You can even record your own voice and use it for commands on Waze.

Waze also wins in terms of customising your car icon — there are ten vehicle icons to choose from, including a Formula One race car on Waze, while Google Maps only has three basic car-icons options. Similar to statuses on social media, Waze has a “Everyday mood” feature, where you can set your avatar mood of the day, visible to other drivers on the app. 

Google Maps vs Waze: Advertising

Both apps have adds, but they differ in how they’re handling the type of content each user sees. While the adds on Google Maps appear very subtle on the screen, Waze has a more flashing way of showing paid advertising. Once you stop moving, Waze will display ads that take up plenty of your screen, but disappear once you start moving. For the smooth way of integrating advertising into its interface, we’ll give this win to Google Maps.

Which one is the better navigation app — Google Maps or Waze?

Both apps are great tools and will help you to smoothly navigate through the city. Waze remains rideshare drivers’ first choice, because live data is essential to full time driving, whilst Google Maps stays the most complex option for information searching. The best part is that you don’t have to make a choice. You can download both apps and get the most of each one’s features.

About Splend

We enable people to make money by driving. Our vision is a future where every on-demand driver can be successful.

We’re PCO car specialists. Don’t take our word for it—drivers rate us excellent on Trustpilot. We can set you up with a brand-new or new-model car on our Flexi own plan, plus we provide the training and support you need to become an Uber driver that’s more profitable, safer, and fulfilled.

Make an appointment at our London Hub at 393 Edgware Road Cricklewood, Londonemail us, or say hello on 0333 016 4331