Waze gains support for HOV lanes, motorcycles and voice activation

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Waze is getting a few new features today that are either firsts for any navigation app, or just functionally super convenient, including an option to optimize routes for travel by motorcycle, routing that incorporates use of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, and the ability to have Waze listen for a voice trigger phrase passively and then interpret voice commands for both navigation and reporting traffic incidents while on the road completely hands-free.

The new support for ‘motorcycle mode’ is a way to get routing that provides optimized driving directions based on actual motorcyclists’ experience, with improved ETAs and potential guidance using roads where cars can’t go, where legally applicable. This new feature is rolling out globally via the Waze app.

HOV routing will give you directions that include carpool lanes, once you activate the option in the Navigation section of the app’s Settings, and select the HOV pass that applies to you and your carpool crew. This stuff is live only in USA and Canada for now, in specific cities.

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Finally, Waze now has the ability to listen for commands once its voice activation features are triggered by the wake words “OK Waze,” which you can enable under the ‘Sound & Voice’ and ‘Talk to Waze’ section of the Waze app. Users in the US, UK and Canada will be able to take advantage of this capability.

Waze chose to implement these products by selecting some of the most-requested features offered up by its community of engaged users, the company says, and they definitely do sound like they’ll boost overall convenience for fans of Waze navigation.