Google plans to tap into the big potential of ride-sharing platforms by tweaking Waze's features, but competitors such as Lyft and Uber have nothing to fear just yet.

Waze, a crowdsourced mapping and navigation app purchased by Google three years ago, is offering its ride-sharing program to a larger user base in San Francisco. Shortly put, the service will allow drivers to offer rides to passengers with whom they are sharing a destination, in exchange of a modicum sum of money.

Waze launched the pilot program in May in the United States, but it was limited to about 25,000 employees belonging to hand-picked companies, Google included. The new policy means that every Waze user in San Francisco will be able to make use of the app as driver or passenger. Waze already tested the service without limitations in Israel beginning July 2015.

Does this imply that Uber must buckle up for a full-on rivalry with Google in ride-sharing? Not quite.

Uber gives professional drivers a chance to make a living out of ferrying people back and forth, whereas Waze's program is a bit different. The concept behind Waze is that all casual drivers can offset the costs of car ownership and gas, while also helping passengers carpool easily. This is why the campaign started by offering the service to employees of specific companies - to encourage people who work together to share the costs of the ride.

To summarize: Waze's program pays drivers for gas and time, while Uber and Lyft drivers rely on their driving wages to support themselves.

Keep in mind that Waze's service is focused on having low tariffs, but that comes with the caveat of fixed and predetermined rides. To those who want mobility and are ready to pay extra for it, on-demand services such as Uber are the perfect match.

Observant readers will notice that the larger Waze service resembles the car-sharing concept presented by Elon Musk recently, a part of his company's plans to tap into a car-sharing network of autonomous vehicles. According to Musk, the program will aid drivers offset costs of owning self-driving cars by deploying them in a car-sharing pool, while their owners are at work or on vacation.

Keep in mind that both Lyft and Uber have similar services in place. Lyft rolled out Lyft Carpool in March, while Uber opened up UberCommute in Chengdu, China.

However, Lyft's service came to an abrupt halt earlier in August, when the company decided to pull the plug as a result of low interest manifested by drivers. Another example of a service that was scratched is Ride, which started on a similar premise but was recently discontinued.

This means that Waze, in its current form, is far from being a direct rival to Uber.

This is not to say that Google has completely renounced the idea of owning a network of self-driving cars. But for the time being, unless Google aims to launch its proprietary ride-hailing service, Uber's supremacy in the area will remain unchallenged.

Waze did not officially comment on the new direction of the company.

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