Regular readers of SocialCarNews are probably familiar with Waze -- a free app that, among other things, works like a crowdsourced satnav, offering traffic info via updates from other Waze users. Over its nearly two-year history, Waze has developed a small but dedicated following of users on iPhones, Blackberries, Android devices, home computers and other platforms. Now we're happy to report that this "small" following has exploded into a whopping 2,000,000 users around the globe.
What makes Waze so interesting -- and addictive -- is its intuitive interface, its user-generated maps, and its gaming elements. For commuters, Waze requires no active participation: just open the app and drive, and when you're stuck in traffic, Waze will make notes to the local map, letting other folks know to find an alternate route. (Waze disables the keyboard when your car is in motion, to minimize the lure of distracted driving.) If you help fill in an unfinished portion of the map, or if you pick up one of the "treasure chests" randomly dotting the landscape, you'll collect points that you can cash in for real-world goodies.
Even better, Waze plays well with other social media apps. Checking in with Foursquare can earn you special Waze badges, and of course you can tweet about your meanderings all day long. Connect to Facebook, and you can see your friends nearby.
Bottom line: Waze is free, easy to use, useful, and thoroughly social. In our not-so-humble opinions, this is exactly the sort of software that Ford, GM, and other in-car app developers should be looking at -- something useful and entertaining that keeps users connected, but in a (relatively) safe way. Waze might not be the long-term solution to the social driving question, but it's an awfully good start, and far less creepy than other apps we could name.
Congrats to Waze on reaching this milestone. We look forward to seeing what lies down the road (literally).
P.S. For those who've never used Waze, here's a quick overview, in video form: