Waze is awesome (for the most part). It has come to a point where I cannot imagine life without Waze telling where to go and which route is the least congested during peak hours. But, while Waze is awesome for people who drive cars, they’ve always left out our fellow road buddies, the motorcyclist.
Now, that’s about to change.
Motorcycle vehicle option
Waze today announced that they will be launching three brand new features that will gradually roll out to people around the world and one of the big new features is the ability to select “Motorcycle” as a new vehicle type option.
With this new vehicle option, Waze says that navigation will now include specialised routing to help make “finding freedom on the open road” during your journeys “simpler and faster”. In addition to real-time road updates, motorcyclists will also be directed to routes optimised for them based on which routes other motorcyclists who use Waze ride through.
With the way some motorcyclists ride in Malaysia though, I wonder what kind of off-the-beaten-track routes Waze might take you.
Regardless, this new motorcycle feature improves much like the way everything else in Waze improves: The more people use it, the more accurately it can direct you. You’ll also get more accurate ETAs (estimated time of arrival) when you’re on two wheels.
However, the biggest problem motorcyclists may face when using Waze is its voice navigation. As my motorcyclist colleague notes, Waze’s voice navigation just isn’t as informative or precise as something like Google Maps‘ voice navigation with lane guidance. This means that if you’re someone who rides without a motorcycle phone holder, Google Maps may still be a better option.
To choose your vehicle, you can go to Settings>Vehicle Type>Motorcycles in the app. Your icon on the map then changes to a sick red bike.
Besides Motorcycle support, the second new feature to hit Waze is something called “Talk to Waze”. In addition to Waze’s existing voice commands, users can now activate voice commands using the command “OK Waze”. With this, the idea is that users can initiate and start navigation, preview routes ahead, send reports and add pit stops without touching your smartphone.
Although I can already see this feature in the Waze app on my Android device, I can’t seem to trigger it. Perhaps it is because Waze says this new feature is currently only available for English-speaking users in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand. More languages will be rolling out soon.
To enable Talk to Waze go to Settings>Sound & Voice>Talk to Waze> Toggle Listen for “OK Waze” on.
Finally, in the list of new updates, Waze now supports high-occupancy-vehicle routes (aka carpool lanes). This means that in countries that have carpool lanes, special lanes for hybrid or electric cars, clean-fuel cars with a special pass or a combination of those, Waze can now direct you along those routes too.
To activate this feature, all you need to do is head to Settings>Navigation>Add toll/HOV pass>Select from a preset list and you’re good to go. If you’ve got an electric/fuel-efficient car, head to Settings>Navigation>Vehicle Type.
This feature is currently supported in 22 markets across the US and some states in Canada. For the full list of supported states, head to Waze’s blog.