Inside car mode on the Samsung Galaxy S5

We're all aware of the dangers of using a smartphone behind the wheel, but as they're ever more the center of our connected lifestyles there are several things it can do for you. Music, navigation, hands-free communication, for example.

What Samsung has on the Galaxy S5 is its own built in car mode that gives you that functionality while trying to remain as safe as possible. You still absolutely need to use it in a windshield or vent mounted dock, but here's what Samsung car mode can do for you.

What it does and how to activate it

Galaxy S5 car mode

What it does is very little, and that's a good thing. It purposely limits the options available to you. So you can call, message, get your music and use the navigation. The buttons to press are pretty gigantic – and it also works just the same in landscape – so you don't need to concentrate too much on hitting the right one. In good light it'll be colored, when it gets darker you'll see the more refined user interface pictured up top.

It's also fully controllable with your voice. Say "Hi Galaxy" followed by a voice command and car mode will carry it out without you taking your eyes off the road for even a split second.

Sounds great, so how do you activate it? The first method is to slide down your quick settings menu and tap the relevant toggle. The second – and much cooler – way of doing it is with Bluetooth. If you have a Bluetooth connection in your car you can register it so that when the phone detects it and connects, car mode is automatically engaged.

Example voice commands

Galaxy S5 car mode

Each of the four options available has a voice command. Here are some examples of what you can say:

  • "Call David home"
  • "Text Katie message I'm going to be late"
  • "Navigate to Wembley Stadium"
  • "Play album Out Among the Stars"

Pretty basic, but get the job done without needing to touch the phone at all. If you do touch the buttons to initiate, you're still prompted to say what you want to do.


Each of the four features have their own settings to customize. While pretty basic, they're worth checking out because they could make the experience even slicker.

  • Phone - Edit suggested contacts
  • Messages - Edit suggested contacts to keep your most messaged people close at hand and set a stock response message.
  • Navigation - Set a location as home and work so you're able to just say "navigate home," or "navigate to work." Add other custom places too so that you can get them quickly and easily.

Car mode on the Galaxy S5 is a really simple tool but one that manages to keep you connected without needing to touch the phone at all. Distractions behind the wheel are still dangerous, but Samsung has done a good job at trying to minimise it.

Richard Devine
  • Sad to say that AT&T stripped this out of their version. Only way to get it is root. It's not present on the Note 4 either... Even then, at least in my situation, it won't read anything out over the car's speakers unless bluetooth is the source. Which means no listening to the radio, etc... not everyone wants to stream music over bluetooth...
  • That's sad. Isn't AT&T the ones who put the don't text while driving thing in the box of all their phones?
  • I hate how we as consumers get treated by the big communications companies. The car mode option would be so useful. Not having options available on my phone is so frustrating especially when they have been stripped out because these companies feel like they know what is best for me... or because they are after more money because they try to sucker us into using their crappy software options.
  • I dont think you can listen to the radio and still get anything from the phone to the car speakers in any way and is not a problem of Samsung or AT&T or anything else. How do you expect the car to know that the phone is connected while listening on the radio? Is a one way thing...
  • As an example, the Note 3 could do this by tapping into the phone part of the system so you could hear and talk back.. Also, every Windows 8 phone I've owned can read out text messages when connected to the car's bluetooth over the car's speakers, no matter what source the radio is on. iOS utilizes HFP prompts in the Maps app to do the same thing. Siri can also read texts but only after initiating the command. And yes, you can get audio through the phone's speakers by unchecking the media profile on the bluetooth connection on the phone and limit it to calls only. So I know it is possible...
  • This is one of my favorite features of Windows Phone 8 and I am really surprised that other OSs haven't followed suit as a built in feature. Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm coming from a Windows phone and am used to the car/texting mode over bluetooth. I am struggling to find out how to do something similar with my new Galaxy 5. Can this be done?
  • You can send a text, but you can't read an incoming text, at least not that I've found. WP8 really kicks android in the butt with how it handles messaging ant calls.
  • THIS! One of the features I'm missing from my windows phone experience (Together with offline maps in Nokia's HERE)
  • I guess is the BT on my car then cause I have never been able to listen to the radio while still get stuff from my phone via BT. It wasnt possible with my iPhone 4S and still not possible with my Galaxy S4
  • I'm afraid I have to disagree. If using Bluetooth, once your car "sees" your phone & all the basic setup is complete, each time you get into your car, it's done automatically. Phone & car see each other and hook up. Then, you are completely free to set your car stereo to the radio. In the advent of an incoming call, the radio stops and the car switches to the call. .. if you choose to answer it, that is. If not, it reverts back to radio. To answer, I have multiple choices. I can give the command vocally, push the button on my steering wheel, or hit answer on the radio buttons. My car is a 2007 with built-in Bluetooth and I'm not even using car mode! I found this article trying to learn about the car mode setting on my Samsung, ironically. With Bluetooth, it's 2way direct communication between phone and car. It's not one or the other.
  • Exactly and that was one of the reasons why I switched back to Apple. Don't get me wrong, my Note 3 was awesome but car mode was useless for me as I had to constantly be on Bluetooth music streaming mode to be able to have SVoice over car Bluetooth. The iPhone make my car (Audi) switch automatically when I use Siri...
  • Do you use the USB connector or how do you use it? Im really curious about this.
  • I always use hands free voice commands while driving if i need to text, call someone or get a route additional apps needed just Google Voice is suffice for me. Its good to keep promoting this movement of hands free, people will use their phones while driving one way or anything unfortunately so keeping their eyes on the road and making voice commands easy to use is key.
  • I love the hands free with Google Now, but I have issues with it understanding me and translating correctly sometimes. For example, this week, on my normal route, I was trying to text my wife and after saying my message, it would ask me again to say the message. This happened several times over. Not sure what was going on that morning. The translation seems to be more hit and miss with Google Now than it was when I had an iPhone using Siri. I do not see myself going back to the land of the fruit, however. I love my S5. I need to learn how to use more of the Google Now options for doing things like sending emails, posting to Twitter, etc.
  • So this uses the always listening feature of the qualcomm chipset? Is music solely Google play? Or can you use other apps like a podcast player? Posted via Android Central App
  • Probably the native music player while in car mode. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Will it tell you if you have a new text and read it to you over bluetooth?
  • If you have a compatible system, yes
  • And if you want to use a different music player, a streaming music player, or a podcast then nuts to you because you can only use the Samsung player. Could be cool if it gave you better customizing options.
  • I use Car DashDroid from the play store on my Note 3. It can handle most of these tasks and is also configurable so you can use whichever music player or nav program you want.
  • More useless gimmicks on a plastic lower phone. /s! Posted by my soon to be retired Note 3
  • I use the app Car Home Ultra. Can be activated on detection of your cars BT. Only thing missing is if it could keep listening for "Ok Google"
  • I use nova launcher and I can use "OK google" while using car home ultra. Give it a try. Posted via Android Central App
  • Have you tried the Google Now Launcher? It enables "always listening" mode from anywhere as long as the screen is on. The phone doesn't even have to be unlocked, just screen turned on (because it doesn't have that special "M" chip that can listen while in sleep mode) Posted via the Android Central App
  • I just want to know what car mount they are using in the picture?? I hate suction cups on the windows, the cup holder mounts are too low in my car and the A/C vents are too narrow for the clip on type. This one would fit perfectly on the "hood" over the gauge cluster perfectly! (as long as it doesn't damage the surfaces) Anyone know which mount is being used? Posted via the Android Central App
  • Try iOttie car mount. It can be mounted on the dash or any surface.
  • Just purchased S5. Please tell me how to use Car Mode, or even "Hey Galaxy" on my 07 Mazda CX9. I've paired it with vehicle. Bluetooth icon appears when engine on, phone on. Car Mode automatically comes on. But it does not respond to commands. After turning it off, I try using "Hey Galaxy". No response. The only success I've had it plugging the phone in using AUX cable and listening to music, but no voice commands work. It's all hand entered. Which completely defeats all the built in voice, hands free stuff. No trouble with my iphones. I plug them in via AUX and all the voice commands work the same as if hand held. The galaxy is not responding. I could really use some advice. I've heard about installing bridge apps, but I'm not very tech oriented and I'm becoming more annoyed. I can't use my phone in the car at all now without hands (and pulling over). i like so many other features of this phone, but not having verbal access to features while in the car IS HUGE. Hoping all you experts and assist.
  • I'm not sure if that's a misprint or whether you're actually saying the wrong thing, but you should be saying "hi galaxy" not "hey galaxy." Mine won't work either when I say "hey galaxy." So see if "hi" works instead.
  • I think it's extremely frustrating that you cannot tell it to run other apps in handsfree mode. This isn't a good thing; it's limiting. I want something that will allow my phone to interact with me without having to use my hands or even looking at it. This software is "protecting" me in ways I don't need protection, and that's just dumb.
  • However, if you have an old car, the S5 is the worst. The GPS voice can't be changed from that stupid low, throaty female voice, and there is no enhanced speaker function, like on the S3. Add together loud, ambient highway noise, low speaker volume, and an even lower GPS voice, and you get a worthless GPS. I'm extremely disappointed.
  • Drive Easy Amaze- Best CAR MODE App:
  • Well I think You guys make it kind of hard complete hard to find my free choosing