Waze, the GPS app owned by Google since 2013, just got an upgrade by being integrated into Google Assistant.
According to a report citing Google, with the enhancement, customers will be able to use the smart voice companion within the Waze app. Users will have access to the usual Google Assistant features, including playback of music and podcasts as well as Waze-specific capabilities, such as asking for a report on traffic conditions or making specific routing requests.
The enhancements are available starting Monday (June 10) in the U.S. in English on Android devices, with availability expected to expand over time.
The integration of voice into Waze comes at a time when Google is beefing up its conversational technology. With the internet giant in a race with Amazon to dominate the voice assistant market, it has been pouring money and focus into the area. In early May, Google added its Continued Conversation feature to smart displays. When users turn on the feature in the Google Home app, Google Assistant can accept commands or questions for roughly eight more seconds after a request from a user.
When the technology was first launched in June of 2018, Google said that in order for Google Assistant to have a natural conversation, it has to understand what is being spoken and be able to respond to several requests during a single interaction. In practice, a user could start a conversation with, for example, “Okay Google, tell me about George Washington.” The user could then proceed to ask when he was president or when he was born. Or a user could ask about the weather in a future week after inquiring about the current weather. Overall, the feature is meant to turn Google Assistant interactions into more conversational exchanges.