Do you have a startup idea and plan to develop an app like Waze?

The navigation app market has seen unprecedented growth in revenue over the past decade. According to Statista, the navigation segment will witness an annual growth rate of 7.00%, with a projected profit of over US$1.61bn by 2027.

Revenue in the navigation app market - Statista
Revenue in the navigation app market

Waze alone is garnering $97.3M in annual revenue. The company has been able to achieve this feat because of its unique approach to building a community around its users’ location data. Waze allows users to share information about everything they encounter along the way and then uses it to show the fastest route between two points.

To triumph in this lucrative market, it’s important to understand what makes a good navigation app and how you can make your app stand out from the competition. 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of building a custom navigation app like Waze. You’ll learn about everything from the design and development process to the main features, the costs involved, and the challenges you may encounter.

At Volpis, we have helped many startup owners bring their app ideas to life. Road Hunter is a recent example of an inspiring success story. If you have any questions after reading this article, we’d be happy to answer them during the free consultation.

How to develop an app like Waze and launch a profitable startup

It’s important to keep in mind that developing an app that is identical to Waze may not be the best approach. Creating an application that is too similar could lead to difficulties in setting your app apart from the competition in a saturated market.

Given the enormous amount of resources they have dedicated to both the development and marketing of their product, it would be extremely challenging to compete with Waze. Simply copying their product will not guarantee the ability to attract their loyal user base.

Instead, you may want to consider creating an app with similar features, while still offering a unique perspective. In Waze’s case, it is a community-based approach that has helped create a database of millions of users’ information.

So, let’s take a look at the key steps involved in custom navigation app development and what it takes to create an app with the potential to revolutionize the way people navigate through traffic.

custom navigation app development process

Step 1: Distinguishing your idea amidst fierce competition

Before starting to develop a navigation app like Waze, it is important to identify how your app will be differentiated from Waze and other competitors. You should conduct market research to identify any gaps or unmet needs in the navigation app market and consider ways in which your app can address those gaps

For example, you may decide to focus on providing more personalized navigation options, such as allowing users to select routes based on their preferred scenery, speed limits, or other factors. Alternatively, you may decide to incorporate augmented reality or other cutting-edge technologies to provide a more immersive and engaging navigation experience.

Step 2: The discovery phase

Once you have identified your app’s unique value proposition, the next step is to conduct a discovery phase. This involves defining the scope of the project, conducting a competitive analysis, defining the tech stack, and creating wireframes.

Step 3: UX/UI design

Once the scope of the project has been defined and the tech stack has been selected, the next step is to design the user interface and user experience of your app. UX/UI design stage involves creating a visual design that is both aesthetically pleasing and intuitive to use.

Step 4: MVP development

The fourth step involves developing a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which is a simplified version of the app that includes only the essential features required for its basic functionality. The MVP serves as a starting point to build the full-fledged app, allowing the development team to test, validate, and get the first feedback from the target audience. 

Step 5: Quality assurance

During this stage, the quality assurance team tests the app’s performance, examines its behavior under different scenarios and identifies any potential issues. They also assess the app’s compatibility with different devices, operating systems, and screen sizes to ensure a seamless user experience across all platforms.

Step 6: Deployment

During deployment, the development team prepares the app for release by ensuring that it meets all necessary standards. Once the app is ready, the team submits it to the appropriate app store or distribution platform, such as Google Play or the App Store, and follows the necessary procedures for app publication.

Step 7: Scaling up and post-release support

After the app is released, the development team will continue to work on expanding its functionality based on user feedback and improving its performance to meet evolving needs. The team will also provide post-release support to address any issues or concerns that users may have.

We are excited to provide you with strategies for developing a successful navigation app, tailored to your specific objectives. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that you have all the information you need to make informed decisions. So, feel free to reach out to us to schedule a free consultation at your convenience.

What makes Waze so popular

Waze is loved by millions of people. 150 million, to be exact. The app has gained immense popularity due to its innovative community-based approach, which involves active participation from its users. 

Unlike other navigation apps that rely on official data sources, Waze allows its users to contribute by updating the map and reporting traffic conditions. All this enabled the app to ensure that users have access to the most recent and reliable information possible.

Moreover, such features as the ability to connect with friends and see their estimated time of arrival, make users feel like they are part of a collaborative effort to make their daily commute safer and more efficient.

Waze allows users to earn points and badges and offers playful animations and sound effects that enhance the user experience.

All of these elements have contributed to Waze’s position as one of the most popular navigation apps worldwide. It combines the best of both worlds—real-time information from users with algorithms that sift through that data to offer useful updates. 

Waze has set itself apart from other navigation apps by prioritizing user engagement, accuracy, and people involvement.

Main features of Waze

Waze is an innovative GPS-based navigation application that offers users a range of real-time information, such as traffic conditions, accidents, and police presence. Let’s examine its main features. 

core features of Waze app
  • Live traffic updates
    Waze uses user-generated data to provide real-time information about traffic conditions, such as accidents, construction, and road closures.
  • Voice-guided navigation
    Waze provides users with the convenience of voice instructions, enabling them to maintain their focus on the road and drive safely.                                                                                                                                                              
  • Social connectivity
    Waze allows users to connect with friends and family, enabling them to view their locations on the map and share estimated time of arrival (ETA) with them.
  • Points of interest
    With Waze, users can access information on nearby restaurants, shops, gas stations, museums, etc.
  • Customization
    Waze offers users the flexibility to select their navigation voice, map color, and change other settings.
  • Gamification
    Waze rewards user participation through gamification features such as a point system, badges, leaderboards, and challenges.
  • Integration with music services
    Waze users can conveniently control their music within the app, thanks to its integration with popular music streaming services like Spotify.
  • Synchronization with Google Calendar
    By syncing Waze with Google Calendar, users can integrate their calendar events into the app’s navigation system. 
  • Carpooling
    For those seeking ridesharing options, Waze provides a carpool feature that connects them with other individuals heading in the same direction.
  • Speedometer
    Waze users can monitor their speed limit in a specific area and receive alerts if they exceed the limit, promoting safer driving.
  • Community-generated data
    Drivers can avoid potential issues on the road, thanks to Waze’s feature that allows users to report incidents such as traffic jams, accidents, and police speed traps, thereby contributing to the community.
  • Lane guidance
    To help drivers navigate complex intersections and highway exits, Waze offers lane guidance features.
  • Offline maps
    Users can download maps for offline use in areas with poor cellular coverage, ensuring uninterrupted navigation.
  • Real-time map editing
    Waze’s real-time map editing feature enables users to add new roads and landmarks to the app’s database as they discover them.
  • Support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
    With support for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, users can access Waze’s features directly from their car’s infotainment system.

How much does it cost to develop an app like Waze?

The expenses involved in creating an application similar to Waze differ depending on the intricacy of the app, the incorporated functionalities, the platform used, and the location of the development team. 

A simple navigation app may require a budget ranging from $20,000 to $50,000, whereas a complex application may cost up to $100,000.

If you’re thinking about outsourcing, you can contact our experts. We would be delighted to offer you an accurate quote.

The most common problems of navigation apps

The most common problems of navigation apps

Issues that may arise when using a navigation app like Waze include:

  • Inaccurate directions:
    Sometimes, navigation apps can provide incorrect directions, which can result in getting lost or delayed.
  • Weak GPS signals:
    A weak GPS signal can affect the accuracy of location data and lead to inaccurate directions.
  • Technical issues:
    Technical problems, such as crashing or freezing, can be exasperating for users.
  • Battery drainage:
    Navigation apps consume a significant amount of battery power, resulting in faster battery depletion.
  • Data usage:
    Navigation apps need extensive data for providing real-time traffic updates, which can be problematic for users with limited data plans.
  • Limited coverage:
    In some regions, navigation apps may have restricted coverage, leading to incomplete or imprecise data.
  • Safety concerns:
    An app can distract drivers, and therefore, it is imperative to use it responsibly.

How our company helps startup owners build robust navigation apps

Volpis has the expertise to resolve all of the problems mentioned above.

For example, recently we developed the RoadHunter, a system for truck drivers which currently boasts a user base exceeding 200,000. 

Apart from the typical features found in a navigation app (such as voice instructions, turn-by-turn navigation, real-time traffic updates, offline maps, live map editing, and lane guidance), RoadHunter offers a range of unique capabilities including personalized POIs and custom routes for truck drivers. 

If you need help building an app similar to Waze, please contact our team. We specialize in navigation and mapping apps and can develop a custom solution

Roadhunter - Waze like app we've built

Develop a profitable app with a unique edge

By having a trusted app development partner, you can transform your idea into a market-leading app. And that’s why we’re here. 

Our team can work with you to determine what is most important for your project and how it can be implemented. 

For example, when you need to add mapping capabilities, there are two main options: Mapbox and Google Maps API. But what to choose in your case? What would be more cost-efficient and cover all your needs? We’re always happy to share with you our expertise in choosing the right technologies.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us via or fill out the form

Frequently asked questions

What programming languages and tools are required to develop an app like Waze?

For the Android version of the app, programming is typically done using Kotlin, while the iOS version is developed using Swift. Additionally, developers should be proficient in using various tools, such as Google Maps API and Mapbox. More information about needed technologies, you can find in this guide.

How can a new navigation app like Waze differentiate itself from the competition and attract users?

To stand out and attract users, a new navigation app can offer unique features, focus on user experience, create a community of users, offer rewards and incentives, and partner with other businesses.

How long does it take to develop an app like Waze?

Developing the core functionality will take approximately 2-3 months while creating a full replica will require around 6 months. Everything depends on the complexity of your project, how many features you plan to include, the platforms your application is being developed for, and the hourly rates of the team. Keep in mind that developing a complete copy of an existing app will lead to copyright infringement.