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How to control Driving Mode on the Google Pixel

Driving Mode is the successor to the recently retired Android Auto app for smartphones.
By
October 6, 2022
Pixel 7 7 Pro Colors
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Some people love Google Assistant and use it whenever they can. Others know what apps they want to use and how to launch them, and wish Google’s virtual busybody would mind its own business. But even the staunchest opponent of the Assistant can appreciate a feature like Driving Mode. Driving Mode is the successor to the recently retired Android Auto app for smartphones. (The Android Auto system that is actually installed in your car will remain.)

It’s not safe to operate your phone while driving. But many of us like to connect our Android phones to our cars to listen to music or hear notifications while we motor. Driving Mode makes this easier by presenting a different user interface than usual, one with bigger buttons and multiple windows so you don’t have to go scrolling through apps to change the music. Further convenience (or further interference, depending on how you look at it) can be had by setting Drive Control to start automatically when it is needed. If you use your phone during your commute, you should know how to enable or disable Driving Mode on your Google Pixel phone.

Starting with the Pixel 2, you could set Do Not Disturb to start automatically—like when you connected to a car via Bluetooth. And starting with its successor, the Pixel 3, you could have the phone automatically start up Do Not Disturb and the Android Auto app as well. This would make your phone’s transition to use as a mobile control center seamless. But Google has decided to mothball the Android Auto app and replace it with Driving Mode. Like Android Auto before it, Driving Mode changes the interface on your screen to give you easy access to the apps and functions most commonly used while driving.

Read more: Android Auto problems and how to fix them

QUICK ANSWER

Open your Google Assistant app and press on the microphone button to enable voice commands. Say “Hey Google, let's drive." Driving Mode will start.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

How to turn Driving Mode on or off on a Google Pixel

In the Settings app of your Pixel (3 or later), tap Connected devices.

Pixel Driving Mode Tap Connected Devices
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

Tap on Connection preferences.

Tap Connection Preferences
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

Next, tap on Driving mode.

Tap Driving Mode
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

Use the blue button to start Driving Mode. To make Driving Mode start by itself when needed, tap on Turn on automatically.

Pixel Driving Mode Tap Turn On Automaticlly
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

At this point, you have a choice to make. If you connect to your car via a cable, select When driving is detected. Driving Mode will start when it thinks it is in a moving car. If you connect via Bluetooth, select When connected to Bluetooth. If you have already paired your phone with your car, it will appear on the usual list of devices you are paired with. Otherwise you would have to pair your car with your phone first. You can also set these controls to do nothing when driving or a Bluetooth connection is detected, effectively turning off automatic activation.

Pixel Driving Mode Set automatic Start Trigger
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

While in Driving Mode, you can turn it off by tapping the I’m not driving control at the top of the Driving mode screen. If you have automatic activation set up for Driving Mode, it will turn off after 30 seconds of walking or 10 minutes of standing still.

Pixel Driving Mode Turn Off Driving Mode
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

How to turn on automatic Do Not Disturb while driving on a Google Pixel 2

Assistant Driving Mode began with the Pixel 3. If you are using a Pixel 2, you do not have access to Driving Mode, but you can automate your Do Not Disturb function. You can make it turn on when you connect to your car via Bluetooth or when your phone detects fast motion. To turn this feature on, go to your Settings app and tap on Sound. Next, tap on Do Not Disturb. Then select Automatic rules. In the Driving section, set your preferences for how Do Not Disturb should behave. Check to see that your rule is enabled before backing out to the main page.


Read more: How to use Do Not Disturb mode on Android

FAQs

No, you can’t. Unlike some apps that, when cancelled, simply stop receiving development, Android Auto is not supported in Android 12. (It was a built-in part of Android starting with version 10.)

According to Google, Driving Mode uses “motion sensing and Bluetooth contacts” to detect if you are in a moving car. Whether the motion detection comes from the phone’s accelerometer, GPS data, or both, is not made clear.

No, it is not. Driving Mode helps to minimize your need to look at or touch your phone while your car is in motion.