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Google closes in on deal for navigation app

Google is said to be nearing a deal worth more than $1bn to buy Waze, a traffic and navigation app that harnesses GPS data and feedback from a community of tens of thousands of users to generate driving routes.

Earlier, the search engine company was reported to be among a group of Silicon Valley giants, including Facebook, who were vying for Israel-based Waze. Now it is said to putting the finishing touches on a deal to bolster its maps business, which is already a leader in the field.

Waze's capabilities would enhance Google's position in the growing market for location-based services, where users, as they migrate to mobile devices, share data about their exact whereabouts. Buying the business would also help Google block Facebook from challenging it in the navigation and maps business.

Unlike traditional navigation apps, which rely on maps to generate routes for users, Waze works by connecting drivers to one another. According to its website, once a user types in an address and begins driving with the app activated, the system passively collects GPS data to see how they are progressing down the route. That allows the system to generate better routes for other users.

In addition to harnessing GPS data, Waze also allows its users to take a more active role in refining the system: they can send in reports of bottlenecks or accidents in order to alert the wider community of Waze users.

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