What Can You Do With Android’s Driving Mode?

Drive distraction-free with voice commands, large cards, and more

Google Assistant driving mode is a feature that makes your phone safer and easier to use when you’re driving. The dashboard uses a card-based interface that’s easy to see at a glance and uses voice commands with the help of Google Assistant.

Since it’s built into Google Assistant, you don’t need to download and install a separate app like Android Auto. You can also use it in connection with your vehicle through Bluetooth or directly on your phone with no connection to your car.

Does Android Have a Car Mode?

Google Assistant driving mode is Android’s car mode starting with Android 12. It replaces the Android interface with a card-based interface that’s easier to see and use without taking too much attention away from the task of driving.

Before introducing driving mode, there was no dedicated Android driving mode. However, the Android Auto app provided an interface designed for driving. Android phones with the Android Auto app can automatically connect to Android Auto-compatible vehicles. 

What Does the Drive Mode App Do?

When you activate Google Assistant driving mode, a couple of things happen. The most obvious change is the driving mode user interface designed for easy use when you’re driving. It uses large cards—configurable squares and rectangles that display information from various apps and access functions like calling and text messaging. If you prefer to keep your eyes on the road at all times, the driving mode also accepts voice commands and can read text out loud with the help of Google Assistant.

The card-based driving mode interface reduces driver distraction by presenting information front and center and reducing the need to tap through menus or scroll through lists. You can tap any card in the interface to access the corresponding app or function.

The driving mode also accepts voice commands, so you don’t need to tap cards in the user interface. You can launch driving mode by saying, “Hey Google, let’s drive,” and once it’s active, you can use voice commands to make and answer calls, send text messages, listen to music, and more. Google Assistant will also read incoming text messages if you use the voice command, “Hey Google, read my messages.”

How is Driving Mode Different From Android Auto?

Android Auto and Google Assistant driving mode are both Android driving modes, but Android Auto is also the name of the technology Google uses to connect phones to dashboard screens in cars.

Here's an overview of each:

  • Android Auto: Android Auto is Google's technology to connect Android phones to cars. It allows you to replace the standard interface on your vehicle's in-dash display with a custom Android interface provided by your connected phone. It enables you to make and receive calls and texts, project apps from your phone, and more. It's only available if your vehicle supports it.
  • Android Auto app: This is a phone-based driving mode that you can use even if your vehicle doesn't support Android Auto or doesn't have a screen. It replaces the standard Android interface on your phone with a custom interface that's easier to see and use when you're driving.
  • Google Assistant driving mode: This is also a phone-based driving mode. It replaces the Android Auto app starting with Android 12. It features a redesigned interface, more reliance on voice controls, and reduces the need to look at the display because Google Assistant reads important information aloud and provides voice-based prompts.

Why Does My Phone Go Into Drive Mode?

Android phones will go into drive mode under some specific circumstances. An Android phone will enter drive mode when it connects to your vehicle regardless of whether it uses Android Auto or Google Assistant. Android phones also enter drive mode when users launch Android Auto or Google Assistant drive mode.

If your vehicle uses Android Auto, and your phone is compatible with Android Auto, it will automatically enter drive mode when connecting to the vehicle via Bluetooth. It will also enter drive mode if you launch the Android Auto app, even if it isn’t connected to a vehicle at all.

If your phone supports Google Assistant drive mode, then it will enter drive mode under the following circumstances:

  • You say, “Hey Google, let’s drive.”
  • You launch Google Maps, enter a destination, and start navigation.
  • The phone is connected to a vehicle by Bluetooth.
  • The phone detects that you are in a moving vehicle.

If your phone goes into drive mode when you don’t want it to, you may have the driving detection feature enabled. To disable this feature, say, “Hey Google, open Assistant settings.” Then navigate to Transportation > Driving mode > When driving is detected, and tap Do nothing.

You may also want to locate the When connected to car’s Bluetooth section and tap Do nothing there as well if you like connecting your phone to your vehicle via Bluetooth but don’t want it to enter driving mode. 

Can You Use Android Auto While Driving?

Since the introduction of driving mode, Android Auto can only be used while driving if you have a vehicle that has a display that can use Android Auto. If you have a car that supports Android Auto, you can use it by connecting your phone to the vehicle with Bluetooth or a USB cable or using the method described by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

You can also use Android Auto on your phone while driving if you have Android 11 or older. Android 12 only supports driving mode, so you can’t use the standalone Android Auto app on an Android 12 phone. If you upgrade to Android 12 and try to use the Android Auto app, it’ll direct you to use driving mode instead.

  • How do I turn off driving mode on Android?

    To turn off driving mode on Android, go to Google Maps, tap your profile picture, and tap Settings. Select Google Assistant Settings, and then toggle off Driving Mode. You can also disable driving mode if you've started a route in Google Maps: Tap the Apps menu (squares icon) and then tap Settings > Turn off driving mode > Disable.

  • How do I turn off driving mode on a Samsung?

    On your Samsung phone, tap the Apps menu (squares) and tap Settings. Tap the My Device tab and scroll down to see the Driving Mode toggle. Toggle Driving Mode off (or on again).

  • How do I turn off driving mode on an iPhone?

    To turn off driving mode on an iPhone, open Settings and select Control Center > Customize Controls. Under More Controls, tap the plus sign next to Do Not Disturb While Driving, Next, navigate to the Control Center and tap the car icon to disable (or enable) Do Not Disturb While Driving.

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