Crowdsourced driving navigation app Waze is getting a boost from parent company Google at this year’s Mobile World Congress – the free app is now included in the section of apps that make up Google Mobile Services, or the pre-installation software bundle Google offers to smartphone and device OEMs building Android gadgets.
The GMS designation means that Waze can join the likes of Google Maps, Hangouts and Google Drive, to name just a few, as something that appears on Android devices as soon as users power them on. It’s not surprising, given that the app is now fully owned and operated by Google, but the fact that the app actually competes in many ways with Google’s own Maps software does make it an interesting move.
Waze does focus more on real-time turn-by-turn navigation than Maps, however, and expects a lot more in terms of ongoing user input to report hazards, traffic slowdowns and more. And pre-installation is a big deal in terms of engagement, since Waze depends on active users to build its database of real-time traffic and road information, which also then feeds back into the main Google app, providing its more general, casual and sizeable user base with the benefits of all that real-time reporting.
Pre-installation of Waze is now available to both OEMs and carriers, but we’ve yet to see anyone offer it out-of-the-box on new devices just yet. Google has announced that it’s going to be trying out life as a network operator, with limited forays into MVNO territory starting soon, however, so maybe we’ll see one Waze’s parent company also become one of its first pre-installation partners.