Hands-on with Places, Waze’s latest feature

Community-powered navigation app Waze got a major update on Monday, which introduces a new feature for sharing info about destinations. Dubbed Places, drivers can share information about local businesses and residences with other Waze users, providing tips and photos of places they’ve visited. 

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With Places, users share photos and tips about locations with other drivers.

It’s an interesting move, as Waze is now dipping its toe in the location discovery pool to inspire members of the Waze community to explore and share details. While driving will always be the app’s core, the addition of Places now could make the destination an (almost) equal part of the Waze experience.

Besides Places, the 3.9 version update also includes autocomplete for new entries, as well as automatic parking pins—a godsend for San Francisco and other city drivers. Just last week I forgot where I parked my car in my own neighborhood.

Of course, being a user-powered app, Waze’s new features are only useful if the community at large actually uses them. So far, it seems like the Places entries are pretty sparse—but I’ll cut Waze some slack, considering the feature just launched today.

Adding a Place

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Adding a new Place is just like adding another report.

For veteran Waze users, adding a place is just like adding another report: Tap the Report icon in the bottom right corner, and select Place from the report menu. You’re then asked to take a photo of the location’s exterior, to help other drivers spot the location more easily. From there, give the location a name (or search for locations nearby and select one to add a photo to), tag it with a business category or mark it as residential, and verify its address.

That’s it! Now, when other Waze users travel to that location, they’ll be able to see the info you’ve provided, and then add their own, like info on where to park or other helpful tips. That goes for you, too—you can always add more info to a Place that other users have already edited. The more info per Place, the better the app experience will be. Plus, you earn points for each Place you add or edit.

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I'd like to see spots with Place info marked on the map.

My one gripe with Places so far is that there isn’t a way to search specifically for Places left by other Waze users, let alone my own Place comments. I added a couple of Places entries for eateries near the Macworld office, and couldn’t find them on the map after I saved the info. My photos and tips also weren’t associated with those Places when I searched for navigation directions to them. However, when I searched for a couple of other San Francisco landmarks, I could easily add comments and make edits to spots that had already been marked with Places info.

I’d really like to see Places marked on the Waze map, just like any other report. That way, users can launch Waze and check out tips nearby, or get info on places of interest while en route. Though to be fair, this might make Waze’s map look a little cluttered with all of the other reports in place. However, I think a way to search for Place tips would be a welcome addition to this feature, perhaps in the next update.

The latest Waze update is available now for iOS and Android devices.

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