Navigation app Waze is getting a special update to make holiday travel easier, packed with new features including hands-free functionality, better support for two-wheeled vehicles like motorcycles and scooters, and extra features to help users in high-occupancy and carpool vehicles get to their destinations faster. The handsfree function manifests as a trigger word "OK Waze" which launches a voice command listening interface. Two-wheeled vehicles now have their own mode, where Waze will optimize their routes and calculate their ETAs to compensate for their ability to take narrower roads and dart between traffic. The HOV and carpool features, meanwhile, will direct users to designated roads and update their ETAs accordingly.
Saying "OK Waze" while the app is running will bring up a screen that lists a few sample commands, like adding in a pit stop or reporting a traffic jam. This allows users to make the necessary changes to their route or double-check where they need to go next without having to actually touch or look at the phone. This is an important new feature; in many jurisdictions, it's illegal to touch your phone at all while driving, no matter what the reason. The separate mode for two-wheeled vehicles is not a terribly big change from the normal way that Waze operates, so users should have no trouble getting around the redesigned app. The changes come in the form of what roads Waze tells the user to take, and how their ETA is affected. The HOV mode is quite similar; the app stays mostly the same but will now navigate users onto carpool roads and lanes and will change their ETAs accordingly.
This update comes just a bit too late for the Thanksgiving travel rush in the United States, but travel rushes for other holidays like Christmas and Hanukkah will be a bit easier on Waze users, and these features will, obviously, continue to be useful once the holidays are over. Waze did issue some updates and information to address travelling for Thanksgiving and Black Friday, though, letting users know the best and worst times to drive, along with trends in grocery shopping and other relevant activities for the season.