Israeli start-up Waze is launching a new addition to its iOS application today. The free GPS and turn-by-turn navigation app is designed to crowd source information on traffic jams thanks to reports from fellow drivers. Users can report traffic jams, speed traps, accidents, and even update existing information. The company is now introducing a hands-free way to activate and file reports with the iOS version of the software.
Waze, impatiently waiting for Apple to open up its Siri APIs to developers, has taken the unusual approach of using the iPhone's proximity sensor to activate a voice-controlled interface in its application. A simple wave of the hand will initiate voice-control, allowing drivers to quickly navigate, report traffic, and alert others to road hazards. The app uses Apple's native Siri speech recognition for addresses and local search queries, and will also disable text input while the car is in motion. Unlike Apple's Siri voice control, there's no reason a driver needs to touch the screen or push a button to interact with Waze.
With Mary Meeker joining the company's board, $67 million in funding, and 12 million users around the world, there's clearly a lot of interest in this startup. Waze has partnered with local TV stations in the US to provide traffic data, and made sure its app is available on iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian devices. There's no sign of a Windows Phone version just yet, but the updated iOS app will be available in the App Store later today.