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Tech Tip: Which Co-Pilot to Choose: Google Maps or Waze?

Q. Since Google hasn’t integrated the two apps it owns, should a driver use Google Maps or Waze for traffic and navigation? And can you use Waze safely to report road conditions while driving?

A. Google Maps is a more straightforward map application and also includes information about businesses and other points of interest in the given area. Maps can be saved ahead of time for offline use, and satellite views are usually available for most places. In addition to driving directions, the app can supply navigation information for mass transit systems, as well as for those traveling by bicycle or on foot.

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For those driving solo, Waze can be configured to respond to voice commands.

Waze, used primarily for driving, takes a more playful approach to the travel experience. The app combines a social network with gamelike features, allowing its users to communicate with other road warriors, earn points for reporting highway conditions and search for the cheapest gas prices nearby. Waze users can occasionally set the app to temporarily use celebrity voices for the audio navigation; the actor Morgan Freeman is among those who have recorded driving directions in the past.

Having a passenger in the car operate the Waze app helps keep the driver focused on the road, but for those driving solo, Waze can be configured to respond to voice commands. In the Waze app, tap the Search/Menu icon in the bottom left corner, and then tap the gear-shaped Settings icon in the top left corner of the next screen.

Under Advanced Settings, tap Voice Commands and flip the switch next to Enable. Choose how you wish to activate the app when you want to speak a command — by tapping the screen with three fingers or waving your hand in front of the device. When you are driving, just activate Waze and say “Report Accident,” “Report Heavy Traffic” or verbalized versions of any of the app’s other icons for noting highway incidents.

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