Google has officially announced today it has purchased Waze, the highly sought after Israeli mapping and navigation startup, in a bid to enhance Google Maps with real-time traffic updates sourced from a social network of drivers.
Google didn't disclose the purchase price. However, Google reportedly paid more than $1 billion for Waze, making it the fourth-largest deal in the Internet search engine giant's history, reported the WSJ.
Waze is a free social driving app available on Apple devices as well as those powered by Google's Android mobile operating system.
The app offers users the best, shortest routes by tapping into a mobile device's GPS information and a social network of other drivers to learn about traffic hazards and other potential slowdowns up ahead. As Waze puts it, "It's like a personal heads-up from a few million of your friends on the road."
The Waze product development team will stay in Israel and operate separately for now, according to a blog post from Brian McClendon, vice president of engineering, Geo at Google.
Google Maps already has traffic congestion alerts. Google plans to bolster Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze. In turn, Google's search capabilities will be added to Waze. Once Waze is integrated in Google Maps, those alerts should be more real-time and more meaningful for each user.