The Google app for Android lets you use your voice to search the web, set reminders, open apps, and do a lot of other things. You can use it by tapping the microphone icon on your phone, but if you enable “OK Google” hotword detection, you can also interact with your phone without ever touching it… assuming you’re willing to put up with a little extra battery drain and the chance that your phone might mishear something else you’ve said and start trying to answer questions when you aren’t asking.

But now there’s also an option to enable “OK Google” voice commands only when you need them. You can set OK Google detection to “while driving,” so that voice commands are automatically recognized when you’re using turn-by-turn navigation in Google Maps.


While announcing the new option, Google also revealed that there’s support for some new driving-specific requests.

For example, you can say “OK Google, show traffic” or “hide traffic” to adjust whether traffic conditions are visible in navigation. You can ask Google to “mute voice guidance,” or “avoid tolls” or highways. You can also try other voice commands, including “show alternate routes,” “how’s traffic ahead,” “what’s my ETA,” and “what road is this?”

Not all of the features are about navigation, though. You can also use OK Google to compose text messages or start a phone call without touching your phone.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’d recommend doing those last few unless you really need to: there have been studies that show distracted driving can be almost as dangerous as drunk driving. But if you’re going to send a text message, you’re probably better off doing it with your voice than with your thumbs. Keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.

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