As we approach the end of the year, many travelers will set out on holiday road trips to visit family and friends, near and far. Whether you’re driving solo, or don’t want to assign navigator duties to your passengers, it just got easier to get around while keeping your eyes on the road, with new voice commands that are simpler than ever to use.
For the ultimate hands-free and eyes-free experience, first make sure you’ve got the latest versions of the Google Maps app and Google app for Android. Then, the next time you enter navigation mode or driving mode, you can simply say “Ok Google” followed by a voice command, without needing to tap or even look at the screen. You’ll always know when voice commands can be used in Google Maps by looking for a white microphone icon in the top right corner.
When you say “Ok Google," the microphone will activate and you’ll see a circle with bouncing dots – indicating that your voice command is being heard. For example, try saying “Ok Google, find gas stations," and see what happens. You can tap the circle to cancel an ongoing command. If for some reason you want to use a non-hands-free alternative to saying “Ok Google," tap the microphone and simply say “find gas stations."
To make sure you have things set up correctly, from navigation mode tap the overflow menu (the button with three dots), then tap “Settings," and finally, tap “'OK Google' detection." The “While driving” setting allows you to say “Ok Google” during navigation in Google Maps. If you’d like to do this anywhere on your device, you’ll need to enable the “Always on” setting (on some devices, the setting is called “From any screen”).
Once you’re all set up, the possibilities are endless. In addition to tried-and-true voice commands like “What’s my next turn?” and “What’s my ETA?”, you can now do things like “Show / Hide traffic," “Mute / Unmute voice guidance," and even “Avoid tolls / highways / ferries," with just the sound of your voice. If you anticipate traffic, you can say “How’s traffic ahead?” or “Show alternate routes." And if you want to add a little fun to your drive, you can say “Play some jazz," “Send a text," or maybe even “Call mom." Here’s a cheat sheet with more of the voice commands you can use in Google Maps. Safe driving, and happy road tripping!