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Waze announced Wednesday three new useful features that will be available in the next version of its popular navigation app. These include support for motorcycles, the expansion of support for carpool lanes, and the addition of voice control for hands-free operation.
In addition to taxis, Waze now lets you select a motorcycle as your vehicle type, which will plan your routes according to what is working well for other motorcyclists. This could be a significant boon for riders in areas that allow lane splitting, who will now be able to navigate based on their ability to go around stopped cars. "Wazers riding in motorcycle mode will be directed on routes optimized for motorcyclists based on where fellow Wazers-on-wheels are riding and the more you ride in the motorcycle setting, the smarter the routing will become," wrote Waze on its blog. The advantages to riders in the 49 states where lane splitting is illegal remain to be seen.
Having previously supported carpool lanes in California, Waze has expanded this feature to 22 states, plus the Canadian cities of Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. If you qualify as a high-occupancy vehicle you can tell Waze, and the app will add HOV lanes along your route to your routing possibilities. Additionally, if you have an electric vehicle, you may select this vehicle type, and carpool lanes that permit electric vehicles regardless of occupancy will become available for routing.
Finally, true hands-free operation comes to Waze by speaking the command "OK Waze," similar to the general "OK Google" command on Android devices or "Hey Siri" on iOS devices. Saying "OK Waze" has the same effect as the existing three-finger tap on the map screen, allowing you to give more voice commands. Though a seemingly minor technological improvement, it allows drivers to remain within the letter of the law in areas that prohibit the use of handheld devices while driving.