Waze wants to make it easier to find better routes and report bad road conditions without ever taking your eyes off the road.
The navigation app (which is owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet) just announced a slew of new features in “one of its biggest updates ever,” just in time for the holidays. The most useful of these is a new hands-free capability that promises to work just like Google Assistant — just say the wake phrase “OK, Waze,” and you’ll be able to control the app using your voice.
The “Talk to Waze” feature expands on the app’s limited voice control capabilities, allowing users to verbally set their route, preview the navigation, send Waze’s crowdsourced traffic reports, and add pit stops to their journey.
The feature is available now for English speaking Wazers in a few countries including the US, UK, Canada, and Australia, but the company says that other languages and territories are on the way. To activate Talk to Waze, just follow these steps: Settings > Sound & voice > Talk to Waze > Shift Listen for “OK Waze” on.
Waze is also now much more friendly for bikers with a new motorcycle mode, the third unique vehicle type supported by the app. The feature selects routes that are tailored for two-wheelers, and the company says the system will learn and improve the more you use it. This could be a big win for bikers, since Google Maps has only shown off a similar feature in beta earlier this month.
Drivers who use specialized lanes will appreciate the last new feature: high occupancy vehicle (HOV) route support, which Waze claims is the first for any navigation app. Users who can take advantage of specialized lanes for carpooling or fuel efficient or electric vehicles can now customize their app to include the routes in their navigation. They’ll be able to get where they’re going even faster — and they’ll be able to do it just using their voice.