OK Waze!

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As you may know, I’m a big fan of Waze.  I use it every day and use it instead of my OKWazevehicles built in navigation as it’s more up to date and reliable, not to mention offers a wealth of additional features that I value.

Recently, the Google team updated Waze to respond to voice commands.  If you go into “Settings” and then click on “Sound & voice” and then “Talk to Waze” and enable “Say “OK Waze”” you can speak to Waze in a completely hands free experience.

When this was first released, it was flawed.  When your smartphone is connected to your in-car Bluetooth and this feature is enabled, the first time you say “OK Waze,” Waze took over your in-car audio system.  Once you issued that verbal command, your in-car microphone remained engaged so that you were no longer able to use any of your in-car entertainment options.  This was not good.

I’m pleased to see that Waze has released an update so that this no longer takes place.  Waze now uses the smartphone microphone to listen for your “OK Waze” command and then allows you to speak to Waze through your in-car Bluetooth, as if you are on a phone call.  Once you are done, control is passed back to your in-car entertainment system and Waze returns to listening via your smartphone microphone.  This is perfect!

Here is how this works.  I’m driving with Waze up on my smartphone and the radio on.  I see a car stopped on the side of the road.  I say “OK Waze” and the radio goes silent and Waze goes into listening mode.  I say “Report vehicle stopped on shoulder” and Waze repeats my request and asks me to approve.  I say “yes” and Waze notes my report on the map at the point I first said “OK Waze.”  This contrasts with no less than 5 taps on the screen to accomplish the same thing, which is not at all safe and a violation of many states hands free laws.

To be fair, there is also a setting you can enable so that when you tap with three fingers on the screen Waze would listen for voice commands.  However, not having to touch or look at the smartphone at all is the best and safest method.

Well done Waze!  Keep up the innovation with a constant focus on user safety.

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