Rapha Cohen has not set foot in the Waze office since March. Coronavirus crisis requires, it is from his apartment in Tel Aviv that the product director of Waze, a Frenchman who left for Israel several years ago, supervises the projects under development. Without language, he unveiled us the future novelties of Waze which, as you will see, is preparing to fill up with new functions. Let’s not make this introduction last too long, let’s talk about the future of the app.
Aesthetic changes … including a dark theme
Start of the week, Waze announced a rare design change. The app’s iconic “hamburger” menu, located to the left of the map, will soon be phased out to make way for new sections at the bottom of the map. Rapha Cohen confirms that “Other changes will come over time” and explains to us that we are aware that the design of Waze, more loaded than that of certain competing applications, can be refined. A team is responsible for improving the quality of the map and is currently planning the future of Waze. “The whole interface is redesigned, everything will be more consistent. We will no longer have to look for a feature “. Asked about the possible disappearance of the application’s somewhat childish design, which uses drawn icons, the product manager shares with us his vision that this graphic theme “Is not contradictory “With greater ease of use. So expect some changes in the coming months.
A year ago when we went to Tel Aviv to meet the Waze teams, company employees told us that the dark theme would be coming to the app very soon. A year and a pandemic later, nothing. The product manager explains to us that the timing of the announcement was wrong. Implement a dark theme “Is extremely complicated” according to Rapha Cohen. “We realized afterwards. It has become a huge project “.
The reason for this delay is quite simple, all the aesthetic elements of the application must be redesigned. Rather than adjusting each graphic element manually by creating their ‘dark’ alter ego, Waze went for a more drastic change: “ We redefine the entire color palette, all the buttons. We decided to unify the whole interface “. When this site is finished, “Dark mode will be easy to implement”. This new lean (and dark) interface could be ready by the end of 2020, even if Waze doesn’t want to promise anything. “We will be at the limit. “ End of 2020-beginning of 2021 therefore.
Apple CarPlay: the Dashboard function arrives
This new feature will delight owners of a CarPlay compatible vehicle and an iPhone, Waze will soon support the “dashboard” function which allows you to display your favorite navigation application directly on the CarPlay home screen. “It’s a matter of weeks” Rapha Cohen promises us. Initially, the feature should have even arrived at the time of this article’s publication. Waze preferred to postpone it for a few days just to finalize the last details.
Soon an App Store for voices?
One of the funniest features of Waze is the ability to download voices for GPS commands. Homer Simpson or Batman may tell you to turn right, which in some cases can be a lot of fun. However, many users are unaware that it is possible to do this, due to the very complicated settings. Voice change isn’t easy to find in Waze, especially since the app doesn’t offer a place to download new characters. You have to go through third-party sites which then redirect you to Waze… Not very “user friendly”.
The good news is that all of this could change soon. The product director of Waze explains to us that he “Full of ideas” and in particular imagine a store where you can download voices and rate them, like an App Store. The company would also like it to be easy for a personality to post their voice on this virtual store. This last, “In development phase”, could be ready in the next few months.
Waze Carpool soon in France
In Israel, the United States and other countries such as Mexico or Brazil, there is Waze Carpool, a carpooling service. This BlaBlaCar powered by artificial intelligence is directly integrated into the navigation application and, for example, allows two employees of the same company who do not know each other to go to work together every morning, based on their commuting habits. You can of course monetize it all, just like in other rival applications. Waze really wants its service to be a real social network for motorists.
France is expected to be Waze Carpool’s next market and might even have been if the Covid-19 hadn’t turned everything upside down. “The service is built on the assumption of regular trips. We make matches with that. ” The problem is that containment and teleworking have been there, which complicated the work of the team and postponed the launch in France. However, Waze does not budge and says it wants to compete with BlaBlaCar at all costs. In France, Waze Carpool could also have “Better penetration than in the United States” according to the company, which is banking on our country for a successful European launch.
Soon cycling and public transport?
Asked by 01net.com about the possibility of one day offering routes for bicycles or pedestrians, Rapha Cohen explains that “Waze’s base is to remain the car, that’s our raison d’être.” However, the Israeli company is closely studying changing habits in major cities. “If you want to go all the way by bike, this is not Waze. We are rather preparing for 90% car, 10% bicycle or 10% transport ”. For the first time, Waze explains that he is considering a “Future of the car-free city”, without however neglecting the regions where the car remains the priority.
In this urban transformation, the app has its role to play and can help people make the right choices on their journey. No question of offering a Waze for bikes or pedestrians, but rather a multimodal Waze, Citymapper style. We start by car, we finish by public transport. The only difference compared to today is that everything would work directly in Waze, no need to switch apps.
In the coming months, the app expects to collect a lot of data on cycle lanes and sidewalks (it already has a lot of it thanks to Carpool, where users are invited to walk to their carpooling car). Raph Cohen claims that Waze “Does not want to compete with Google Maps “Even if, eventually, the application will no longer be limited to cars. Who knows, in the future, this change of philosophy will perhaps allow it to diversify even more?