How Much Does it Cost to Create a Navigation App Like Waze?

Published: March 2, 2017

9 min read

Last updated: May 2, 2022

Just admit it. I dare say you will agree that it’s too difficult (or even impossible) to imagine our life without GPS navigation apps, isn’t it? Recent statistics by App Annie only proves it! Just take a look at the download rate of the best 2 GPS navigation apps in Google Play:

Do you still think whether it is profitable to build a navigation app or not?

Do you still think whether it is profitable to build a navigation app or not?

Impressive, right? And this is no accident. Such apps can suggest the best way to get to our destination point in the shortest time or help us to find the nearest coffee house with fresh pastries while we’re waiting for our friends. But is there a place for something innovative?

It may erroneously seem that we don’t need such a diversity of car navigation apps because they all are quite similar. “What can you add to a navigation app except for the navigation?” you may ask. A bunch of cool things, as it turned out! And the Waze navigation app is one of the brightest examples. In this article we will find out what kind of an app Waze is and how much it costs to build something similar.

🚗 What is Waze and why is it notable?

Waze is a GPS navigation app with a broad variety of useful and amusing features. All together they provide users with an exciting and funny experience. A custom catchy design is also one more reason to fall in love with this app.

That's how Waze looks like

That's how Waze looks like

How has it all started?

Nowadays Waze is the second most popular navigation app (after Google Maps) in the American Apple’s App Store. It may seem unbelievable that 9 years after the first release it holds close attention of users all over the world. And even more.

The story began in 2008. At that time Israeli developers Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar could hardly believe that 5 years later they will be striking $1.3 billion bargain with Google.

Interesting fact: according to the deal, each Waze’s employee has received about $1.2 million payment making it the biggest payout to employees in the history of the Israeli IT sector.

The company grew quickly and confidently. By 2010 it raised $25 million of funding, and a year after – $30 million more.

This was followed by the rise in popularity: as of January 2012, Waze had 12 million downloads, but in July 2012 the app already had 20 million users. At the time of the deal with Google in June 2013 Yahoo! has reported that Waze reached 50 million users. Impressive changes in such a short time, right?

Let’s find out what has boosted attention to this app so much.

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What’s so special?

Waze is the GPS navigation app with elements of social networking. It provides drivers with the latest and most accurate data gathered from other users in the area. There are 2 ways which Waze uses to collect and share information:

  • Passive, when the app analyzes cars’ speed to indicate traffic jams and suggest you the shortest and fastest way to your destination.
  • Active, when users themselves report about anything that may turn your ride into an unpleasant adventure – car accidents, road closures and even police posts.
Waze uses all available sources of data to provide the most complete and useful information to drivers

Waze uses all available sources of data to provide the most complete and useful information to drivers

Finally, you get the most up-to-date traffic information from the same drivers as you are. However, there are even more exciting features. Let’s take a closer look at them.

1. Add-ons

Add-ons are this “secret component” which makes Waze so unique and catchy. With its help, you can expand the list of possible functions and personalize your interaction with the app. For example, add-ons can integrate Foursquare and Facebook friends to Waze or notify you when driving through a high-crime area.

2. Fancy user interface

The custom Waze’s interface is also one of the reasons why you can recognize this app in just a few seconds. Instead of standard navigation design Waze has funny and nice cartoon-like icons.

Moreover, app’s interface is quite intuitive and easy to operate with. It won’t take too long to get used to Waze and discover all its functions.

Cool cartoon-like design is another advantage of Waze navigation app

Cool cartoon-like design is another advantage of Waze navigation app

Nice, isn’t it? And, by the way, that is what Waze app clones are often short off – a fresh and fancy user interface.

3. Real-time updates

It’s cool to have high-quality satellite images in a truck navigation app, but Waze went even further. Real-time notifications from other users create an extremely useful user experience. Simple, but effective!

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Moreover, you can also upload photos and add notes to provide others with the totally complete and accurate data.

4. Additional features

Except 3 main advantages mentioned above, Waze has several extra features which make this app even cooler. For example:

  • Carpooling, which allows you to give someone a lift and receive a little remuneration;
  • Planned drive that calculates a perfect departure time according to your destination place and time;
  • Gas stations’ ranking, which helps to find the cheapest gasoline in the area.
Waze's unique features allowed to attract even more users

Waze's unique features allowed to attract even more users

Yet, we at Stormotion care about UX of our clients’ apps and always want to be sure that they comprehensively solve problems of users. We deeply believe that a perfect car navigation app like Waze at some point of its’ lifecycle should include the following features.

Are you interested in creating an app like Waze? Then you should plan carefully. First of all, think about the essentials of your future app.

# 1: Geolocation 📡

GPS/Geolocation is the core function of any navigation app. Your helper here is Google Maps Directions API, which provides you with a list of turn-by-turn instructions and readable notifications. As an alternative, you can use Skobbler or HERE Maps SDKs to make your idea a reality and create an effective tracking system for your users.

Geolocation is the heart of any app like Waze

Geolocation is the heart of any app like Waze (image by Ghani Pradita)

We also can advise you to use a great SDK we have already used — Mapbox. It provides many useful tools for car navigation app development and allows you to implement:

🗺 Live Map

⤴️ Offline Routing

Always-up-to-date map with accurate ETAs and predictive traffic.

Maps and navigation are supported even in offline environments.

🧭 Navigation

⚙️ Open source components

Fully customized, turn by turn routing navigation. The SDK also supports AR directions.

Mapbox is highly customizable, especially when it comes to location snapping or voice instructions.

Nothing for an MVP, but some apps also provide users with a choice of voices (Waze, for example, offers voices of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Morgan Freeman and others). It’s a great idea to increase engagement and use in your marketing campaign at a later stage.

# 2: Voice Recognition System 🎙️

Obviously, driving requires maximum concentration. Any distraction can potentially provoke an accident, so take care of such situations even before they happen. The easiest way is to implement a voice recognition system that lets drivers build routes only with their voice commands.

For this purpose, you can use a set of tools. At first, use Google Cloud API or API.AI to transform voice commands into a text. Then send it in the HERE iOS and Android SDKs or Google Directions so as to process this text and build a suitable a route.

Add a voice recognition system to your app and make it even greater!

Add a voice recognition system to your app and make it even greater! (image by Nur Praditya Wibisono)

# 3: Social Networking Elements 💬

The successful combination of navigation and social elements is one of the factors which brought Waze its success. So if you want to create a similar navigation app, keep this balance and take care of crowdsourcing possibilities. There are a few features that you can implement:

  • Profiles. A basic element of social integration that lets you leave reviews, comments and communicate with other members.
  • Comments. Can be used to provide more info about a traffic issue or chat with other drivers while being stuck in traffic.
  • Likes. One more form of communication that can be used to confirm reported issues from other drivers. Or just to thank them :)
  • Additional features. The original Waze app offers users such a functionality as scoreboards; in-app mail services; ability to add the address of home, work and favorite stores; gather teams with friends or other users to solve community problems and others.

Your main tech helpers here are Facebook API, Sendbird Chat SDK and Layer SDK.

Social networking element in the navigation app

Social networking element in the navigation app (image by Marcus Triest)

Oh, and one more thing. For many people Waze is the best GPS navigation app because it provides drivers with the real-time data from their area - local traffic jams, road repairs, gasoline prices and so on. So don’t forget to implement the tools that will allow your users to share this kind of information with their community.

# 4: Custom Design 🎨

This is definitely the most controversial part of the app. I personally know a few people that refused to use the app due to its “childish” design. Yet, it’s also pointlessly to argue that this is one of the most memorable details as well.

Custom design may attract some extra attention to your app

Custom design may attract some extra attention to your app (image by Ankit Guleria)

Anyway, we advise you to come up with an interesting and unique concept of UI instead of the standard “Google Maps-like” design. Why? Because your app won’t look catchy and it will easily be forgotten. On the other hand, a too original design may not be accepted by many users, so think your UI concept through and out.

💸 What’s about the price?

It seems that we have mentioned all the “must-haves” for a Waze app clone. Are you full of bright ideas now? Do you feel so enthusiastic like never before? That’s good because there is just one question left to discuss - development costs.

Despite the cost of Waze app was established at more than $1 billion (at the moment of the deal with Google), you will require significantly less money to create a navigation app like this. Take a look at a rough estimation:

Waze Clone Features estimated in hours



Smart Navigation System


Live Directions


Voice Recognition


Ability to Report about Traffic Issues






Social Networking Elements


Custom Design


Total Hours


Approximate costs


So, the minimum cost to build a navigation app starts at $40,000 and grows in proportion to app’s complexity.

To calculate this, we took an average rate of $40/hour.

If you want to reduce navigation app development costs, you can start with something simpler and smaller, but also cheaper. For example, build an MVP.

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💡 Conclusion

Waze navigation app has shaken the GPS apps market. So it’s not a surprise that it has attracted millions of users all over the world. In this article, we have told you how you can get a piece of this popularity too by building an app like Waze.

First of all, don’t forget about features that are necessary for designing a Waze app clone. These are:

  • a GPS navigation function;
  • a voice recognition feature;
  • social networking elements (as profiles and chats);
  • a fresh and memorable UI.

And if at that point you may ask yourself "Do those guys have experience with navigation app development"?

The answer is "Yes, we have". Just check our portfolio and try to challenge us. You'll get to know how we combine the best tech tools with our expertise to deliver a top-notch app!

Get an Estimation for your Navigation App!

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