I've been inundated with tweets and emails from AppRadio users complaining about the latest Waze app update. The app was updated on October 18 for iOS users with a redesigned interface. What the app description doesn't mention is that the update has made the app unusable in AppRadio Mode.
Here's what's going on...
Waze is arguably the most popular navigation app that integrates sharing and incident reporting in real-time. You can use Waze to get the latest traffic conditions while getting navigated to your destination.
The app got popular enough for Google to buy it from its Israeli developers for over a billion dollars. Google now uses several Waze features like accident reporting, traffic flow etc. in Google Maps. But the company continues to offer the standalone Waze app on both iOS and Android.
So what broke Waze for AppRadio users? The answer is in the latest Waze update app description...
Waze (version 4.0) - App Store description
Version 4.0 introduces a fresh new design for easier navigation, reporting, and sharing.
• Significantly reduced battery consumption.
• Fewer taps to start a drive, send locations and directions.
• New ETA panel organizes everything you need in one place. View reports, check alternate routes, add a stop on the way, or instantly send ETA to friends and family.
• The new map is easier to read with a cleaner look catered to your drive.
• It’s easier to help others on the road with a faster, more visual reporting menu.
• Reports and alerts are color-coded so you can instantly recognize them on the map.
• Smart reminders to leave on time for your Calendar events based on traffic conditions and drive times.The Problem
While getting directions in Waze, the map is barely visible. This is because there is a large bar that displays directions at the top of the screen. Additionally, there is the new ETA panel at the bottom of the display. The ETA panel is a part of Waze's new interface as described in the update.
The ETA panel is large enough to obscure the map view. Actually, the directions bar at the top is larger. And when alerts show up, the map gets obscured completely. Take a look at these pictures sent to me by one of our readers, Alfonso...
But, not being able to see the map isn't the only problem. Other users have reported Waze display issues when receiving notifications in other apps. On receiving a text message while getting directions, for example, the head unit goes blank. The only way to get Waze back on the display is by relaunching the app on the phone.
The other issue I've faced is that the latest version 4.0 crashes often. Sometimes on launching the app on the iPhone it displays the Waze splash screen for several minutes before crashing. If you've had this issue, delete the app and reinstall it. The crashing issue has been less frequent ever since I did it.
Maybe AppRadio Mode is not a priority for Google but the truth is that a lot of people use the in-car mode from Pioneer. It is also possible that Waze is designed to be used in portrait orientation. AppRadio Mode displays Waze in landscape view, which means less real estate for the map to be displayed.
On the iPhone
On the iPhone, Waze works quite well. The map is not obscured as much because the navigation bar at the top and ETA panel at the bottom of the display are both small/thin. Take a look...
I still like Waze and might even continue to use it, but not be in AppRadio Mode though. The interface is beautiful on the iPhone. Take a look at this screenshot...
The issues mentioned here are seen on all AppRadio Mode Pioneer head units. I tested Waze on the AppRadio 4 (SPH-DA120) and AVH-4100NEX.
Whether Waze will be updated to work better in AppRadio Mode remains to be seen. If you haven't downloaded the latest version of Waze and use AppRadio Mode, refrain from updating your app until a fix is released.