GPS app Waze (owned by Google) this week launched a new celebrity voice for its users to download: Oscar-winner Morgan Freeman (anyone else remember him from when he was on “The Electric Company”? No? Just me?) can now give you directions on your way to work, home or steer you away from traffic accidents. The voice download is part of an ad promotion for Freeman’s new movie, “London Has Fallen,” in which Freeman’s vice president character takes on terrorists, etc.
While this may be only a temporary voice download (most of the celebrity voices are only for short periods of time tied to an advertising campaign), it’s certainly one of the better ones Waze has come up with. Over the past few years, we’ve been treated to voice directions from C-3PO (as part of the “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” promotion), Arnold Schwarzenegger (Terminator movie), Stephen Colbert, Neil Patrick Harris, Rob Gronkowski, Jay Leno, “Colonel Sanders” (actually it was Norm MacDonald, don’t tell anyone), Kevin Hart, Vlade Divac, Terry Crews and two guys from the World Cup - Soccer commentators Raul Orvananos and Antonio Casale.
That got me thinking - what other celebrities do I want on my phone? The “temporary” voices you get as part of a promotion are interesting, but then they’re gone too fast. I’d bet that a lot of folks would be willing to pay $0.99 for the chance to have the voice be permanent - as long as the directions were entertaining (Rob Gronkowski, I’m talking about your listless reading). Here are my humble suggestions on who else we’d all be willing to listen to on our commute home:
Betty White: The queen of the Internet, 93-year-old Betty White would be a calming influence on our drive home. The star of “The Golden Girls,” tons of other sitcoms and countless appearances on game shows from the 1960s on through today would calmly tell drivers to “turn left, turn right”, or, in a twist, would be able to yell at us to “slow down! or warn us of bad traffic or accidents.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda: The Tony-award winning composer, writer and star of this season’s hottest Broadway musical, “Hamilton”, would wow us with freestyle, hip-hop driving directions. “Don’t throw away your shot! In 0.5 miles, turn left!”
Donald Trump: This suggestion might not be for everyone - sometimes you want to drive to get away from political discussions. But wouldn’t it be interesting to have the Republican front-runner for president give you directions with his New York accent? “This is gonna be YOUGE (aka “huge”), make a “HUGH TURN” ahead.” Although getting politicians to give directions on turning left or right could be problematic.
Bernie Sanders: On the same wavelength, give voters a chance to vote between Trump, Sanders and Hillary Clinton (or other candidates). Forget about “Which candidate do you want to have a beer with?”, instead, ask users to answer the question, “Which candidate do you want to bring you home?”
Kevin Spacey: OK, one last “political” request - have Kevin Spacey from “House of Cards” read you driving directions in the persona of his character, Frank Underwood. Sample instruction: “I have no patience for you missing that exit. Make a u-turn immediately.” Also, since Spacey is so good at doing impressions of other celebrities, maybe you could convince him to do some additional voices.
Tech celebrities: This one may be a bit of too much “Inside baseball”, but having someone like Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk or Tim Cook give directions might be appealing (although Tim Cook would likely want to give directions for Apple Maps.)
Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool: The Merc with the Mouth would certainly add his own commentary to the normal set of directions, but I’m not sure whether Waze would want to include a G-rated version.
Who’d I miss? What famous (or infamous) person would you like to see Waze go after next? Would you pay $0.99 for a permanent directions reader? Let me know in the comments!