Amazon Music Car Mode gives streaming app a road safety makeover

Amazon has added a new Car Mode to its Amazon Music app, aiming to make it easier to handle playback while minimizing driver distraction. As you'd expect, the new interface includes simplified controls and bigger text to save you from squinting at your smartphone, along with Alexa voice control so that you might not even need to move your hands from the wheel.

Amazon Music Car Mode can be accessed when you connect via Bluetooth to a vehicle's audio system, either switching on automatically or manually. The functionality is unchanged – the existing app has had things like Alexa support already – but the buttons get bigger, and there are now customizable presets for specific playlists, albums, and streaming stations you often listen to.

Alternatively, you can let the app figure out the presets itself, pulling from what you often listen to, your existing library, and what sort of music you've been browsing.

Amazon isn't the first to launch a car-specific interface, of course. Spotify has had a unique UI for automotive use for some time now, with the interface automatically switching over if you connect via a smartphone projection system like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Apple Music, of course, works with CarPlay too, while Google's music services do the same with Android Auto.

Not everyone has a vehicle which supports either CarPlay or Android Auto, however, and so if you're connecting via aux-in cord or Bluetooth a special interface within individual music apps still has safety value.

While Car Mode should launch automatically when the Amazon Music app detects that you've connected to a vehicle via Bluetooth, you can also load it manually. In the app, the menu in the top right corner now has a "Car Mode" option. To exit the simplified interface, meanwhile, you can either hit the "exit Car Mode" button or just disconnect Bluetooth if you've been using the wireless connection.

Smartphones have made availability of things like streaming music playback and navigation far broader, but they've also introduced a potential hazard into the cabin. Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents and road deaths in the US, with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) blaming it for 3,142 deaths in 2019. While texting is generally considered the most problematic sort of distraction, adjusting music is also known to be a major issue.

To access Car Mode you'll need the latest version of the Amazon Music app – on iOS, that's v10.7.0, while on Android that's v17.7.4 – from the respective App Store or Google Play store for your device.