Technology

Waze Adds Voice Commands, Motorcycle Mode, Carpool Lanes

Waze users in North America will be pleased to hear that the company is adding voice commands to its popular navigation app. It will certainly make it easier (and legal in some places) to get directions to a location while driving because users can simply say, “OK Google,” and the app will respond. It’s a seemingly small change to the voice commands feature that already existed in Waze, but it’s one that will have a huge impact because it allows for hands-free initiation of requests.

In addition to the Waze voice commands, the app is also adding support for carpool lanes and a motorcycle mode, which includes streets that a bike could fit down, but a car can’t.

waze voice commands
Image Source: Waze.com (screenshot)

 Waze voice commands match Google’s

Google bought Waze about four years ago, and since then, there haven’t been a lot of major upgrades to the navigation apps. Google probably focuses much of its attention on its own Maps and navigation app. Waze is different than Google’s offerings, however, because it includes crowd-sourced traffic information. Still, the Waze voice commands are in line with Google’s own command, which is saying, “OK Google,” for hands-free access to Google Assistant.

To use the Waze voice commands, all drivers need to do is say, “OK Waze,” and then just ask for directions to a particular address, information like an estimated time of arrival or to be re-routed to another address. Drivers can also use the Waze voice commands to ask for things like gas stations that are nearby and along their route. Waze will also provide details on the driver’s next turn when asked and will give details on accidents or traffic information along the route.

How to enable Waze voice commands

The Waze voice commands certainly provide some much-needed information without having to actually touch a device. In some places, only hands-free use of mobile phones is allowed. No matter where you are, it’s usually not safe to be trying to study your device while driving to see what’s up with traffic or look for a gas station along your route.

In order to enable Waze voice commands, you’ll have to switch them on, however. To do this, go to Settings > Sound & voice > Talk to Waze, and then toggle the “Listen for ‘OK Waze’ on.

The Waze voice commands are already available in English for users in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. The company plans to add more languages soon.

Waze adds motorcycle mode and carpool lanes too

The tweak to the Waze voice commands was one of the three most-requested features, according to the company, and two others are support for carpool lanes and motorcycle mode.

The company said that the addition of carpool lane support makes Waze the first navigation app to support them. The feature offers extra options for navigation and new arrival times based on HOV (high occupancy vehicle” lanes along the route. To switch the feature on, you’ll need to provide the app with some extra details about your vehicle and its occupants because the requirements for using carpool lanes vary in different places.

For example, those riding with a full carpool crew should go to Settings > Navigation > Add Toll/ HOV pass, and then choose from the list of available passes for your area. Those who qualify for carpool lanes because they’re driving a hybrid or electric car must go to Settings > Navigation > Vehicle Type.

Waze supports carpool lanes in 21 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. as well as Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver, Canada.

Motorcycle mode will offer routes that have been optimized for bikers based on where other Waze users who are on motorcycles are riding. The company said that the more riders use the Waze motorcycle mode, the “smarter the routing will become.” To use motorcycle mode in Waze, go to Settings > Vehicle Type > Motorcycles.