BTW, it seems that the street name problem was fixed.
This is an informational post for other users.
So, the prompt scheme is currently as follows:
FIRST: "In [x minutes|y miles], [exit|turn|stay] [left|right] [on|to] [name]"
SECOND: "In [half|a quarter of] a mile, [exit|turn|stay] [left|right]"
FINAL: "[Exit|Turn|Stay] [left|right] [on|to] [name]"
The first prompt is given ~five seconds after the previous movement (turn/exit) is completed, unless the previous movement was onto a ramp/series of ramps, in which case it waits to prompt until you clear the ramp/series of ramps.
A lot of users here complained that the "4.3 miles" prompt was "unpredictable". It's not, it's just not transparent. 7 km = 4.3 mi. We were all hearing the "4.3 miles" prompt not by design, but because past 4.3 mi Waze gives time-based prompts, and the time-based prompts are downloaded as full phrases from the TTS server (e.g., "Continue straight for 17 minutes to Exit 123: Straight Rd."). Since the full-phrase downloads were failing, Waze kept trying and trying until you got close enough for the fall-back "in 4.3 miles, exit" prompt with no street name.
This happened occasionally in beta testing, but usually it would take a few minutes for Waze to successfully get the time-based first prompt, and give it with 23 minutes to go instead of 27. My theory is that the influx of new users overloaded the broken TTS server even more, making it nearly impossible to connect and get the phrases.
It seems to be working perfectly today, which is really refreshing. It's been a while.
Now that it's working, I do still think certain things need to be improved. I've already sent these concerns directly to staff, so I will give the summary version here.
(1) The second prompt needs to give the street name. It's a big problem when there is a long time between the first and second prompts. It's not like before where the second prompt followed the first by 3/4 mi at most – now it might be three hours or more since hearing the name of the street or exit, and there's no sense in waiting to remind us of the name until the moment you're making the turn or exit. Especially since...
(2) The timing of the second and final prompts is poor, especially at high speeds. Both come too late, especially the final prompt. The final prompt should still give you enough time to actually act; instead, you'd better already be in the correct lane and on the brakes, or else you'll miss the turn or exit. I almost did on the freeway drive I did the other day, and found myself second-guessing because of it. The final prompt should come early enough to allow me to change one last lane on the freeway or to slow down for a turn. Likewise, the second prompt, at 0.5 mi, is definitely not early enough on the freeway to change multiple lanes in high-traffic situations, especially in fast-paced heavy city traffic. 1/4 mile is fine for city speeds, but the second prompt should be given a full mile away at freeway speeds, perhaps with 3/4 mile around 55 mph and 1/2 mile around 40 mph.
I ran Waze alongside a consumer GPS unit on my road trip the other day, and found the timing on it to be much, much better. The new Waze prompt scheme is essentially identical to the scheme on that GPS unit, except that (1) the other unit always used distance, not time, (2) the other unit would give the second prompt at 1.1 mi on the freeway, and (3) the other unit would give the final prompt considerably earlier, at perhaps ~700 ft instead of ~400 ft. It made a huge difference. I like that Waze uses time for far-away first prompts, but for the others, the other unit takes the cake. Waze could learn something from that.