Google Maps App Now in Hebrew and Arabic

The service has also been upgraded following Google’s $1 billion acquisition of Israeli startup Waze.

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Google Maps is now available in Hebrew and Arabic for users of Apple’s iOS operating system, alongside other improvements made possible by Google’s acquisition of Israeli startup Waze over the summer.

New features include real-time traffic reports and a feature providing drivers the quickest route possible. To be navigated in Hebrew or Arabic, users must simply set their smartphone to one of those languages. The app, however, does not work with the iOS 7 operating system.

In August, Google announced that it was upgrading its map service and adding real-time traffic updates following the $1 billion acquisition of social-mapping startup Waze. Now Waze’s features such as reports on traffic, car accidents and road obstructions are available on Google Maps as well. Also, Google Maps’ Frequently Asked Questions are now easier to access.

Waze is a crowd-sourced application that relies on information provided by its roughly 50 million members. Mapping services are among the most-used applications on smartphones and are considered crucial to retaining mobile users.

Before the takeover by Google, Waze was owned by a group of local and foreign investors, including Israeli venture capital funds Magma and Vertex. Some $67 million had been invested in the company since it was established in 2008 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine.

A Google Map showing part of Israel.Credit: Google Maps
Google co-founder Sergey Brin, left, paid good money for the Israeli navigation app Waze. But does this trickle down to the common Israeli-in-the-street?Credit: Bloomberg

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