Hands-Free Mobile Device Use For Beginners – How To Make It Work, Why You’ll Love It

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As states begin to enforce hand-held device bans, we offer suggestions on how to best use the technology you already own.

At a recent vehicle technology seminar at MIT hosted by the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA), the expert panel members were in agreement on very little except one thing. Many of today’s vehicle owners don’t know how to use the technology they already own. As it happens, we used Uber to get to and from the seminar. During the trip, we looked into the windows of the other vehicles we passed and found that a huge percentage were holding a device in their hands. That act is about to be illegal in this state, and is already a pretty dumb idea. Here is a quick primer on how to use the hands-free mobile device technology in your vehicle.

Use Your Hands To Drive – And More

The easiest way to free up your hands for old-fashioned car activities like steering and shifting is to put your phone down. We know, using one’s hands to operate a vehicle sounds archaic, but you’d be surprised how many of your vehicle’s modern functions are literally at your fingertips. Your adaptive cruise control is where your right hand should be. Your vehicle’s infotainment controls are where your left hand should be. Another helpful technology can also be controlled by your left thumb – your phone’s answer and hang-up functions. If you are still holding your phone in your hand, and many drivers still are, here’s how you can stop fumbling with the thing and still take a call if one comes in.

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Sync Your Phone

First, you need to sync your phone to the vehicle. You only need to do this when you get a new phone or a new car, so we understand if the functions seem intimidating. However, it is very easy and there are many resources available to help you. The most common things you need to do are as follows:

– Go to your phone’s setting bar. It looks like a little gear. Tap it open and go to settings. Then go to connections. Then look for Bluetooth. If it is not already “On” enable it. Usually by sliding the little button to the right. Now that you have that done, tap Bluetooth.  With most phones, that will open it and the Bluetooth will automagically start looking for local Bluetooth devices it can connect with. Be patient and set the phone down for just one moment.

– Next, in your vehicle’s infotainment display, find the menu for “Phone.” Tap it so it opens up. Many vehicles will now give you the option to “Add a device.” You want to tap that. If this menu is not found in your “Phone” category, check under “Connections” or “Settings.” If you can’t find it, the owner’s manual will be a quick way to find that menu.


-The last step is easy. You just need to have your phone seeking the car and the car seeking the phone at the same time. They time out after a bit, so just re-tap the search function if they stop without having linked up.

-When they do find one another both will change their screens. The vehicle may say “Accept a password” or “Add and the name of your device.” Tap yes. The phone may also do that and you want to tap yes or tap the name of the car. We suggest not using a password or setting a new one if an option exists. Once this step is complete the car is going to request two things you need to approve. It will ask for access to your phone and your contacts. Please believe us when we tell you the car and anyone else that operates it do not care what your grandmother’s phone number is. Accept both.

Use Hands-Free Phone Functions

Once the two are working together, you never need to touch your phone again to accept an incoming call. Simply use the accept call button on the steering wheel (Green Arrow), or on the infotainment display. When the call is connected, you will hear it over the car’s speakers and the other party will hear you. The audio and Nav will automatically mute in most cars. Some Nav systems allow you to select whether you want it to talk over your call. You can adjust the volume by using the infotainment volume in most cases, and in some vehicles, the infotainment system offers a slider to increase or decrease the volume. To hang up, simply use the hang-up icon (Red Arrow). You can also reject an incoming call using that icon.

We Suggest Parking To Make Calls

We are not big fans of outgoing calls being made from cars. We suggest you stop in a parking spot with the vehicle in Park to make calls if you need to. However, you can also use the hands-free voice controls to initiate a call. We are not going to give you all the steps to do that, but your manual, your dealer, or your twenty-something nephew can show you how to do it.

An even better and safer way to use one’s mobile device hands-free is to connect to Apple CarPlay or Android Auto if your vehicle has the feature. Almost all new vehicles do. We’ll save that tutorial for a future story, so stay tuned.

John Goreham

John Goreham

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