How to Set Waze as the Default Navigation App on iPhone

According to its App Store rating, Waze is one of the most popular navigation apps for the iPhone and for a good reason. The app incorporates real-time traffic reports, road conditions, and speed traps. On top of that, it features a responsive user interface and can work with your favorite music streaming services (we’ve tested it with Deezer). You can even communicate with other drivers, and increase your own rating by adding alerts such as Police, debris in the road, and more.

How to Set Waze as the Default Navigation App on iPhone

If you’ve used Waze, you may wonder how you can set the app as the default map on your iPhone. This app still isn’t tightly integrated into the iOS ecosystem and Apple does a very good job of keeping the Maps app your go-to navigation tool. However, there is a hack to set Waze as your primary navigation/maps option.

Apple’s default map service is Apple Maps. But, if you’d rather use Waze when prompting Siri to give you directions, we have a few options for you in this article. Unfortunately, iOS doesn’t make it easy to set your default maps as Android does.

Google App Trick

The easy – or better say the only – way to make Waze maps your default navigation tool is to use the options provided by the Google app. Mind you, this is not the same app like Google Chrome which integrates with Google maps. And the following steps assume you’ve already downloaded and installed the app.

audio app
  1. Launch the Google app and tap the three horizontal dots to access the More menu. Then, select Settings and tap the General tab to access more options.
  2. Choose Default Apps at the bottom of the General window and tap on Waze to select it. If you want to select between the available apps every time you need navigation, toggle on the “Ask me which app to use every time.”

Important Notes

After switching the default maps within the Google app, you might need to restart your device for the changes to take effect. It’s important to know that other apps installed on your iPhone will continue to use Apple or Google maps as their primary source of location information.

There is no master switch/option that lets you make changes in the system-wide location services on an iPhone. It’s safe to assume that this is not going to change in the future unless, of course, Apple partners with Waze.

Can You Use Waze with Siri?

The simple answer to this question is yes, you can. However, if you’d just ask something like: “Hey Siri, give me the directions to…” the virtual assistant will use Apple Maps. At the time of this writing, there was no way to change this setting and use Waze by default.

However, you can specify the app you’d like to use when you ask Siri. For example, you can say: “Hey Siri, launch Waze and give me the directions to…” This triggers the app and provides the route to your desired location.

You can also install one of the shortcuts apps and create a custom shortcut that would trigger a Waze search using fewer words. But this might not be all that practical since Siri works with Waze just fine as is.

Using Waze with CarPlay

As you might have guessed, CarPlay utilizes Apple Maps for navigation but you can set Waze to be the default navigation app. This works on iOS 12 and later and you need to make sure your iPhone is running Waze 4.43.4 or a later version. Here are the steps to make the switch with CarPlay.

  1. Open the Settings app and select the General menu. Then tap on CarPlay. The system should immediately recognize your vehicle and you’ll need to tap on it to make a selection.
  2. After selecting your car, grab the Maps app from the Home screen and move it to the next page of the apps. Now, pick up the Waze app and slide it over to the Home screen. This gives you quick app access and makes Waze your primary navigation software.

Note: The same method applies if you want to use Google Maps or any other map app as your primary navigation tool.

Setting Siri Shortcuts in Waze

One way to make it super easy for Siri to activate Waze over Apple Maps is by using Waze to set favorites and turning on ‘Siri Shortcuts’ from within the Waze application. To do this:

  1. Open Waze and tap on Settings in the upper left-hand corner.
  2. Next, tap on Voice & Sound and then tap Siri Shortcuts.
  3. Tap on one of the options available. Then tap Add to Siri.
  4. Now you can tell Siri to take you to a specific place and Waze will activate.

Now, whenever you say “Hey Siri, drive home” Waze will appear on your screen with directions.

The Tricks You Shouldn’t Consider

As there is no way to set Waze as the system-wide navigation/maps app, you might consider deleting all navigation apps except Waze. If you do so, iOS is likely to do a decent job of providing location and navigation data via the only remaining app. But you cannot be 100% on how it will affect other installed apps.

Based on our more recent tests of this workaround (September 2020 with iOS 13), simply saying “Hey Siri, Give me directions… does not work. It only prompts us to enable Apple Maps.

The reason for this lies partly in the fact that Waze doesn’t use Apple’s MapKit to generate the in-app maps. Instead, it features a mix of proprietary maps, the ones from Bing, and TIGER basemap software. This is why some of the native apps that utilize navigation/location services might not work properly.

Certain iPhone jailbreaks claim to allow you to set any app as the default iOS navigation software. But we’d advise you against jailbreaking your smartphone just so you can set Waze as your default map app. The jailbreak methods can jeopardize iOS integrity, breach your iPhone’s warranty, or, at worst, brick your phone.

Turn Right at Albuquerque

When all is said and done, the only way to partially set Waze as the default maps/navigation app is to use the Google app trick. This can be quite handy since you are most likely to search for a specific location via Google anyway. The app also works great with Siri and just saying “use Waze” overrides your iPhone’s default settings.

Which Waze features do you like the best? Have you already tried using the app with Siri? Give us your two cents in the comments section below.

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