In the middle of 2017, Connected Car met with Jens Baron, Waze Platform Strategy Lead at navigation app developer Waze. At that time his company had just announced support for Android Auto. In the intervening months, Waze has been getting a lot of attention, and a number of car manufacturers have chosen to align themselves with the Waze brand.
Waze now claims to have more than 100 million regular users of its app, so is clearly doing something right. We decided to connect with Waze again, and Vince Holton chatted once more with Jens Baron.
VH: Tell us what has happened with Waze since we last spoke?
JB: Alongside an announcement from Apple, we’ve just launched Waze for Apple CarPlay. We are really pleased to be part of the CarPlay ecosytem, and to be one of the first third-party apps to be there.
VH: This has taken a while. Does that mean that it was a difficult job?
JB: These things do take time. I started talking to Apple around the time we launched Waze for Android Auto back in 2016. I showed them Waze on Android Auto and, in truth, since then it has gone very fast. Working with the Apple guys has been fantastic. From arriving on the Apple campus to work with them it took us only a few hours to have the first navigation running. This compares with it taking weeks on some other systems. From that point onwards we continued the development, and again, compared to some other systems it was all quite quick. That was dealing with the mechanics of it, and then there was some time while Apple worked on making it available as a third-party app.
VH: I can imagine that from a strategic point of view Waze wanted to be part of the CarPlay world, but were you also getting pressure from Waze users to do this?
JB: We were feeling a lot of pressure, and I think Apple was too. There were endless questions on Twitter – “When will you be on CarPlay?”, “When will you be on CarPlay?” So, there was a lot of pressure on us, but there was nothing we could do until Apple decided to open up CarPlay. When they told us they would, we were very happy to be invited to be one of the first apps to become available.