Waze, the Israeli-developed crowdsourced traffic and navigation, was named Best Overall Mobile App at this year’s Mobile World Congress, taking place in Barcelona, Spain.
The award was announced on the MWC’s official website by the GSM Association, sponsors of the show. Waze beat out several other very popular apps nominated for the award, including Flipboard, the newsfeed and social media aggregator, and the file sharing app Dropbox.
“This dynamic navigation app ticks all the boxes — great user interface, community/crowd-sourcing base, saves time, saves money, saves fuel — a masterclass in how to exploit the potential of mobile devices,” read the judges’ comments from the competition now in its 18th year.
2012 was an especially good year for Waze, which expanded to new markets and saw its user base nearly double to nearly 40 million. According to the company, drivers in 110 countries shared 90 million traffic reports during 2012.
Waze, consistently one of the top downloads at Apple’s App Store and Google Play, the store for Android phones, recommends alternative routes to drivers to help them avoid traffic. It’s also a navigation and mapping app, offering turn-by-turn directions to drivers who punch in a destination, and updating local and highway maps.
Waze claims that its mapping system is more accurate than any of the commercial GPS systems available for drivers, because the maps are constantly updated by drivers who report on road closures and openings, construction, new roads, alternative routes, and so on. Waze’s strength as a mapping program was evidenced last year when Apple CEO Tim Cook recommended Waze as an alternative to Apple Maps, which many users complained was inaccurate.
Although its users are a loyal bunch, Waze at times does suffer from glitches, such as when the app sent Tel Aviv drivers to routes that included the Ayalon Freeway, even though the road had been closed due to flooding. Nevertheless, the company said, the embarrassing incident had not hurt usage, and more Israeli drivers were joining daily.
On a blog post, Waze thanked its users for helping it to win the Barcelona award. “It takes 40 million drivers to make a great service that impacts the world, and that’s just the beginning,” the company said. “Imagine what we’ll able to do at 100 million.”
Gabe Fisher contributed to this report.