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Waze Now Has A Worthy Competitor, INRIX

by Felix Omondi
Waze Now Has A Worthy Competitor, INRIX

On the surface, it might seem odd just how dependent you have become on GPS navigation systems. Even on roads that you use two times a day, five times a week, and year in year out. One would wonder if these GPS systems were to go down, will we drive off a cliff because there is robo-voice (or Morgan Freeman voice) to tell you, “in 300 meters turn left, in 70 meters take a right.”

Well, am sure most of you don’t use GPS navigation while driving on roads you’ve used thousands of times before for the purpose of getting direction. If you do, then there is probably something wrong with you. I am certain you use these GPS navigation systems for the purpose of getting traffic updates or alerts on roadworks and hazards up ahead.

Yes, when you are driving on unfamiliar roads you should depend navigation apps for directions, but that hardly ever comes up that often for most of us. Which is why navigation apps like Waze have grown to become such a hit; this one in particular puts up crowdsourced traffic information by other road users.

So you get traffic, roadworks, and hazards up ahead updates in real-time; and it is from fellow road users. Something you won’t get in the same fashion when using traditional navigation apps like Google Maps (though it is always there).

Waze popularity has grown immensely especially in recent months (prompting Google to buy it) and could be said to be the best navigation app currently. Especially when you’re looking for crowdsourced information, but that could now be challenged. There is a new kid on the block, the INRIX traffic app; a new player in crowdsourced traffic information with real-time updates.

However, INRIX is a veteran in car navigation system. It is used in most modern cars with the real-time traffic data navigation system. INRIX powers the real-time traffic data displayed on the dashboard of the Audi A4, Telsa Model X, BMW i3, and i8.

INRIX is new in the sense that it has moved from cars’ dashboards to users’ mobile devices with the release of a mobile app. It is going right into Waze’s turf looking to unseat it as the reigning mobile app for GPS navigation system with real-time crowdsourced information. Waze has all the reasons to be worried!

Although it doesn’t exactly offer something new or better over Waze per say, its real-time traffic database could be bigger and better. Considering it is installed in about 275 million cars and devices across the world. In addition to that, it uses machine learning technology. Whereby instead of you feeding the navigation system your favorite or frequently used routes. INRIX keeps tabs on you daily routine and automatically works out your frequented routes, the time of day you often travel and will synchronize with your calendar and give you alerts on the best times to be hitting the roads.

Well, much of the features mentioned above Waze can do, so still INRIX has nothing over Waze. Except this; it takes a different approach when suggesting the quickest routes. If you are familiar with Waze, you know it is always on the lookout for routes that will save you time. On the map, it looks great until you actually pass those suggested routes and discover you’re passing through sleepy residential streets riddled with speed bumps, and you end up driving very slow and getting late.Waze Now Has A Worthy Competitor, INRIX

Here is where INRIX beats Waze to the curve. Joel Karp, the Director of Product Management at INRIX was cited by Ars Technica saying:

A great example of this; I just move up from Los Angeles to Seattle (where INRIX is headquartered), and whenever I needed a route, it always took me on the major freeways, which I never drove.

Because we have machine learning and we’re learning your preferred route, and because we think humans are creatures of habit who are unlikely to deviate off that route unless there’s a significant time delta – not 10 seconds, not 45 seconds, not two minutes, we think it’s six-plus minutes; we’re monitoring that route to make sure it’s the right one for you to take that day and if not, whether you know what the better route is, as opposed to just serving up any old route.”

If you’d like to give INRIX a go and maybe later compare it to Waze, here is a link to App Store or Play Store to download to your iOS or Android device respectively.

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