Google has just announced the acquisition of Waze, a social mapping and navigation app that features real-time traffic data provided by its users. While Google did not disclose the purchase price, The New York Times reports that the deal is in the region of US$1 billion.
While relatively unknown, Waze has been the subject of a hotly contested bidding war in recent months, with both Apple and Facebook interested in snapping it up. The app works by letting its users update the map with real-time alerts that clue you into accidents, road debris, potholes, construction, and other events that could slow your commute. Google posted an example of how Waze works in its blog:
We’ve all been there: stuck in traffic, frustrated that you chose the wrong route on the drive to work. But imagine if you could see real-time traffic updates from friends and fellow travelers ahead of you, calling out “fender bender...totally stuck in left lane!” and showing faster routes that others are taking.
It's not clear for now what Google plans to do with Waze, but expect some of its services to be added to Google Maps. Google has stated that the Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. In a post on Waze's own official website, company CEO, Noam Bardin said, "Nothing practical will change here at Waze. We will maintain our community, brand, service and organization — the community hierarchy, responsibilities and processes will remain the same.”