Waze AH

Google’s Nat & Lo Deep Dive Into How Waze Works

January 20, 2016 - Written By Justin Diaz

Google is responsible for a ton of different stuff, from search, to Android, to a myriad of apps available on the Android platform. With Google being involved in so many things there’s a lot of things to learn about and this is a part of what Googlers Nat & Lo do with their 20% project. While in the past they’ve asked questions about Android 6.0 Marshmallow and Google’s Project Loon, the latest topic of inquiry involves Waze, the now Google-owned navigation app that is driven by users and their helpful insight every single day. Nat & Lo wanted to learn what it was like to create something with the help of users, which is essentially what Waze does as a lot of the directions and traffic information comes from users who enter that data into the app.

No one likes traffic, even though it can give people the opportunity to have some much needed personal time whether it’s just for a few minutes here and there on the commute or an hour in gridlock. Waze helps people avoid traffic. To assist in their thirst for knowledge on what makes Waze what it is, Nat & Lo were joined by a Waze team member named Di-Ann as well as a user named Jessie who volunteers his time to edit maps for the Waze service.

As with every other 20% project that Nat & Lo do, they video documented what they find out about Waze and have shared those insights with the public, and posted the video up to YouTube. This includes details like Waze starting off as a blank map, and that the service was developed in a way that made using it kind of like a game. In the beginning, Waze maps were blank slates with streets presented as dots. Users’ cars were displayed on the maps as characters that looked similar to PAC-MAN, which could more or less eat the dots as they drive and help populate the roads. The app is quite a bit more advanced these days, with a wealth of traffic related data and the ability to help users avert traffic problems, weather issues and more. The app also knows specific details like speed just by allowing it to be open while you drive, and users can report anything that the app won’t pick up like closed lanes or road hazards. The video is an interesting watch, and especially so if you use Waze or wanted to learn more about it.