Our cellphones are vital for keeping us connected, informed, and entertained anywhere we go. And thanks to modern, hands-free technology, they’ve also become an integral part of the process of getting there—especially when going by car.
Hands-free cellphone use in the car isn’t just a necessity, it’s now the law in many states. Fortunately, most phones today are equipped with easy-to-use Bluetooth technology, which can be turned on from the Settings menu to let you make calls, access map apps, and more without even touching your phone.
Bluetooth is a short-range wireless standard that uses radio waves to let multiple devices connect. To use it on the road, you will need to “pair” your car and phone together, which usually takes just a minute or two. Check your Owner’s Manual for specific instructions for your vehicle. Once you’ve paired your car with your phone’s Bluetooth, you can use voice controls through your in-car entertainment system to do things like make and answer calls, or use navigation software to get directions. If you have a vehicle without an entertainment system, you can pair your phone directly with a Bluetooth-compatible headset to make hands-free calls.
Many newer vehicles come with an option of integrating directly with your smartphone’s software, letting you control messaging, navigation and other apps using voice controls. Again, refer to your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual to confirm if these will work for you. Apple CarPlay lets iPhone users get turn-by-turn directions, make calls, send and receive text messages and listen to music or podcasts using the voice-activated Siri personal assistant, while icons are displayed on the vehicle’s interface that mirror the familiar features on your iPhone’s home screen.
Likewise, Android Auto uses Google Assistant to offer much of the same functionality for Android smartphone users. Apps and their audio content will run on the phone, but can be heard and controlled using the sound system of your car. Once Android Auto is installed, you’ll simply say “OK, Google” or press the voice control button on your steering wheel to begin using its features.
Don’t leave home without making connections to Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto. Like a spare tire or jumper cables, they’re essential tools for keeping you safe on the road.