waze_mapIf you’re interested in how companies plan to compete with Google Maps Navigator, we suggest you keep an eye on waze.  Rather than turning around and running in the opposite direction, the first free provider of driver-generated maps and real-time road information, embraces the challenge with innovative ideas and contests.  Today sees them announcing more fun stuff with a new holiday version of their free navigation app.  This new version includes holiday-themed ‘road goodies’, a treasure hunt contest, integration with foursquare, and multi-language support!  Does that sound like someone scared of Big G?

Since their maps are user-generated, there are going to be problem areas where speeds and directions could use a little help.  To address these problems, Waze added incentives called ‘road goodies’ – small icons worth bonus points – to the map in the sticky spots.  As users drive in and around these areas the system analyzes GPS data to improve map quality and navigation for everyone else.  all drivers in that area. The holiday version of Waze features wintery, new snowflakes, candy canes and small gift packages, scattered all over the map.


Today also finds waze kicking off a ‘Holiday Treasure Hunt’, which features treasure chests scattered across the map.  When drivers pass over these spots, they earn a chance for items that range bonus points to valuable real-world prizes. The conest runs from December 17, 2009 to January 1, 2010 around the world.  Waze users should be on the lookout for treasure chests starting today!  More details can be found on the waze blog.

But wait, there’s more!

Users of both waze and Foursquare will be happy to learn that the new GPS app includes integration with Foursquare.  You can now use waze to ‘check in’ to various locations and even earn a waze ‘roadwarrior’ badge.

Finally, they’ve announced a feature that offers quick translation and availability of waze in any language. The new release includes Spanish and Italian support in the client interface as well as the audio navigation prompts.

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