Waze has launched a major update for its popular turn-by-turn navigation app. The entire user interface has been revamped for "higher visibility and clarity," while still retaining the colorful, almost cartoonish appearance that has become its signature. It's still bold and bright, but is noticeably less cluttered than before. Version 4.0 also adds a new ETA panel that puts traffic reports, alternate routes, and other useful options one tap away.
Waze will also now give you a heads up about certain accidents before you even get in the car. The "smart calendar" feature will alert users when road incidents are likely to impact the day's schedule, giving you the chance to leave earlier and minimize delays.
And last, Waze claims to have made significant improvements to battery consumption; the app will now use less of your phone's charge to get you from place to place. Most people probably have their phones plugged in when driving around, so this is one change that may go unnoticed by many of Waze's users. And there are still a lot of Wazers out there, even after Google acquired the app and rolled almost all of its best functionality into Google Maps. Maybe it's the social element of the app (sharing your ETA with friends, etc.) or the perception that Waze's traffic alerts are more timely than those in Maps. Either way, it's good to see a major update that's a bit more substantial than adding yet another celebrity voice. Waze remains a free download, and the latest version is available on iOS now and will hit Android very soon.