Drivers the world over are painfully aware of the inherent danger of taking their eyes off the road even for a second. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, 27% of all car crashes result from distracted driving due to attempted cell phone use. Fortunately, Waze comes with a feature that can help keep you from being a part of this grim statistic.
The popular navigation and driving app has introduced a feature that lets you issue voice commands to Waze, leaving you free to focus all your attention on the road ahead. Best of all, this "Okay Waze" feature is simple to set up, and it doesn't matter if you're using an iPhone or an Android device, because enabling this setting is done the same way for both platforms.
To get started, open Waze and access your user dashboard by either tapping on the magnifying glass icon in the lower-left corner, or by swiping in from the left edge of the screen. Now, tap on the cog-shaped settings button in the upper-left corner of your dashboard and select "Sound & Voice" once you're inside the settings page.
Next, tap on "Talk to Waze" from within "Sound & Voice," then tap on the toggle next to "Okay Waze" to turn the feature on. If a confirmation prompt appears for permission to let Waze use your phone's mic, simply tap on "Okay" or "Allow," depending on your device, to grant it access. You can exit out of the app's settings once you're done.
Now you can access almost any feature in the app when you're on the road by simply saying "Okay Waze," followed by a command such as "drive home." You can even use this feature to report issues with traffic, hear your next turn, or see how long it's going to take to get to your destination.
It's important to note that the "Okay Waze" feature only works while the app itself is open. Waze will not open from your device's home screen by invoking the command, even if it's running in the background. It's also worth mentioning that you will still need to tap on your device to confirm your target destination after voicing your command, which is a bit of a bummer.
Compared to the potentially dangerous alternative of typing an address while on the road, however, Waze's new hands-free feature is a massive improvement.
This article was produced during Gadget Hacks' special coverage on traveling with your smartphone. Check out the whole Travel series.