Call Us : 571-220-1891

Frontpage Banner

Observations on Bluetooth and Driving

Bluetooth phone to carI thought I’d go a bit off topic this week and write about my recent experiences with syncing my phone and car together via Bluetooth. It wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

If you’d asked me a year ago if I wanted my phone and car to talk to each other, the answer would have been an emphatic “NO!” I’ve never been a fan of driving while talking on the phone, and I didn’t think adding Bluetooth to the mix would make it better.

Then last August, I bought a new car–a Honda Civic sedan–and learned that, in theory, my phone and auto should talk to each other. As a dedicated tech geek, I had to try it. Alas, no connection. Apparently my phone wasn’t compatible with my car.

No problem. All I wanted was to listen to music anyway, and a wired connection to my phone was good enough.

Fast forward to June of this year, when my husband’s old Corolla started to become a money pit. We decided to replace it with a Honda CRV. As we were test driving the CRV, I mentioned my disappointment with not being able to connect my phone to my car. The salesman suggested I try again with the CRV, and it worked! Of course, as soon as I got home, I tried again with my car. Success!

You know I had to try everything I could think of, right? Let’s start with Agent, one of my favorite Android apps. Among other fantastic features discussed in the review I linked to, it will silence your car while connected via Bluetooth to your car. Whoo hoo! No ringing phone while driving. Right? Not quite. Yes, the phone is silenced, but it still rings through the car system.

I had to try it, so the first time a call came through, I tried to answer it. Turns out the car controls aren’t intuitive. You have to push the button just the right way. Ooops. Finally got it sorted out and took a call from a client. Not bad. I didn’t feel too distracted, even in the middle of construction traffic on Route 1. While I’m still not sure it’s changed my mind about even hands-free calling, I guess I’ll use it in a pinch.

I did learn something interesting while on vacation last week. I was in my husband’s car, and my phone had been connected to it so we could listen to music on the long drive to Florida. We had to make a hurried call to my father-in-law as we were climbing into the car on our way home from a restaurant. I wasn’t driving, so I was talking into my phone in the back seat. He couldn’t hear me. Why? Because the call was automatically routed through the car system, and I was too far from the microphone. Note to self: turn off Bluetooth first if I don’t want to use the car system.

So phone calls are a mixed bag. Text messages are another matter, though. The car will read them to me, which I do like. The TTS reader is kind of robotic (big surprise), and her pronunciation is sometimes laughable, but it works.

What’s the best part about the sync? Music! Music works like magic. I get in my car, wait for my phone to connect and start my music player. So far I’ve tried Amazon Music and Google Play Music. Both work flawlessly. I can changed tracks and adjust the volume with my thumb on the steering wheel controls. But here’s the cool part. When I turn off my car, the music stops, automatically. When I turn the car back on, the music turns back on, without me having to do anything. It was startling the first time it happened. My phone was in my backpack, in the back seat, and the music just started.

Overall, I do like the Bluetooth connection. It’s nice to take calls in a pinch, and I do like controlling the music with the car controls. When I had a wired sync, I had to change tracks directly on my phone, which never felt safe. Do I think it’s a must-have feature? Not really, but it does have advantages.

How about you? Love or hate your car phone system?

  • I got a new car last November. My husband hooked up his phone with it. We used it twice. I like it because when we’re visiting in-laws my husband can make the call now and I don’t have to. Overall, I’m with you, I don’t think it’s a must-have feature and I’m not a big fan of using the phone in the car either.

    • admin

      @Joanne, good move for using it as an excuse not to make the call yourself! πŸ™‚