Waze gets a new 5G feature that Google Maps doesn't have yet

This feature will have you hunting down super-quick internet speeds…

Waze navigation
(Image credit: Waze)

We all know Waze as the Google-owned navigation app that diverts you down side streets to avoid traffic and incidents reported by its users. But now another feature has appeared, and we’re not entirely sure what to make of it…

Rolled out first for users in the Philippines, Waze maps now show where 5G is available from local phone network Smart Communications. These 5G icons are the same size and design as the preexisting icons Waze uses to flag up parking options, traffic, roadworks and other useful information.

To be clear, this isn’t a feature that uses 5G to improve the Waze app in any way. Satellite navigation runs perfectly well on a 4G or 3G connection, and even Waze’s crowd-sourcing features don’t necessarily benefit from your smartphone having a faster connection.

And, while we like knowing when we’re in a 5G area on foot – if only to help justify the cost of our 5G phone and run an obligatory speed test – seeing the location of 5G masts while driving, and only the masts of a specific network at that, feels somewhat less important.

Smart Communications describes the adding of its 5G logo to Waze maps as a “groundbreaking feature” to help subscribers seek out and connect to their nearest 5G mast. The signs began appearing for Waze users in Metro Manila and across the provinces of Aklan, Bulacan, Cavite, Cebu, Davao del Sur, Iloilo, Laguna and Pampanga in March this year, with more locations to be added soon.

The mobile carrier plans to have a network with over 3,800 5G base stations across the Philippines by the end of 2021, so we wonder quite what Waze maps will look like once every mast is represented by its own icon. We also wonder if other networks will take a similar approach to advertising their 5G services, and if Waze has plans to extend this function to other countries in due course.

Would you like Google Maps to tell you where you can find 5G signal? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter!

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.