I’ve been using Waze for a long time, first as a “co-pilot”, and then as a driver myself – here’s a Google Street View snapshot from one of those glorious first drives on Italian soil, taking my budgies to the vet:
So, I already loved the app, way before they chose to feature, as a guest navigation voice, one of my favourite people in the whole wide world, Stephen Colbert:
I enjoyed every minute of being on the road with Stephen’s witty remarks, literally waiting around every corner. I would even mimic him every now and then.
And one day, just like that, he was gone…
It was unexpected, but it made perfect sense. This kind of licence can only be temporary.
I didn’t rest, I couldn’t. I looked all over the internet till I found his soundpack and the way to get it on my phone. Stephen was back.
Taking a glimpse of those soundpack files, though, activated another passion of mine: customization. The possibilities could be endless! A browse of the good ol’ Starcraft wav files was my first thought, but then I realized that I could make something better – better than Starcraft?! – out of this. There was no Greek language on the app, so I thought of making a Greek soundpack; it could even work as a demo for the dev team behind Waze.
After something like eleven takes on different recording setups – in lack of one, legit setup that would have worked right away – I managed to reach a satisfying result using Propellerhead’s “Take” on my iPhone, followed by some mild post processing on my desktop computer. This was the result that I repeatedly tested on the road, till I couldn’t stand listening to myself telling me where to go:
I reached the Greek crowdsourcing community that was already working on the app’s UI text translations and map editing and, after that, I passed my demo to the Waze team.
They were surprised, and impressed.
Just as it’s described on Waze’s Official Blog, a few months, several hundred translated UI strings and a professional recording later, on July 3rd, 2016, my voice, along with a fully Greek UI, made it to the smartphones of Greek-speaking Waze users all over the world.
Still can’t stand listening to myself telling me where to go.