How to Safely Control Your Music While Navigating with Google Maps

Using smartphones to control your streaming music while driving is dangerous. A large number of accidents occur each year because people are fiddling with their phones while driving. But if you are on a long trip, you don’t want to have to stop every time you want to change what you are listening to on your music apps. You can now control your road trip music directly from your navigation app if you are using either the Google Maps app or Waze with a new music controller option.

This new feature allows you to control your music streaming apps using a button that is located on the navigation screen while it is in use. With a touch of that button, you can access the audio player and make selections while actively navigating. You don’t have to leave one app to use another.

Google Maps

Let’s first look at how this works on Google Maps since most of you with an Android phone have it and probably use it.

The new audio player app on Google Maps supports Google Play Music and Spotify on Android phones and Apple Music and Spotify on iOS. Oddly enough, Google does not support YouTube Music, even though both are run by Alphabet and despite people using it more than Google Music .

Enable the Music Player in Google Apps

Here’s how to enable the music player in Google Maps. (My directions are for Android, but the process for iOS is similar.)

1. Open Google Maps on your phone.

2. Tap the menu icon in the top-left corner (the three lines).

3. Scroll down to Settings and tap it.

4. Tap “Navigation Settings.”


5. Find the option “Show media playback controls” and toggle it on. (If you don’t see it, you may need to update your Google Maps app.)


6. Choose a default media app from the installed apps on your phone that are compatible with Google Maps.


7. Tap Next.

8. If you are using Spotify, you will be taken to a screen to permit Google Maps to control the Spotify app. Accept these permissions.

To use the Google Maps audio controls while driving

When you are ready to start your trip for which you will be using the navigation app, follow these steps to have access to your music without leaving Google Maps.

1. Open Google Maps.

2. Enter your destination and start navigation. You will see a floating Music Player icon. If it’s not there, go back into settings and make sure the Show media playback control is toggled on.


3. Tap the icon to load the player control buttons at the bottom. It only works if you are “centered” on the route you are following.

4. Use the Play, Previous, Next buttons to control the music while driving.


5. Swipe up for more options.


6. At this point you can use Browse to find more playlists and songs on your player. You can also switch among supported music apps on your device. If you want to collapse the music play, just tap the floating icon again.

Using Waze

Google Maps is not the only app that allows integration with music apps. The Waze app also does so and on a bigger scale. Whereas Google Maps only gives you two options for your media player, Waze gives at least seven! You can use Spotify, iHeart Radio, Pandora, NPR One, Scribd, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Enable the Music Player in Waze

Here’s how to use the audio player in Waze.

1. Open the Waze app on your Android phone.

2. Swipe from the leftmost edge to see the menu options.

3. Click on the gear icon to open the settings.

4. Find Driving preferences and tap Audio Player.


5. Toggle the buttons next to “Show audio player” and “Next Song notification.”


6. Scroll down to find and enable the apps you want to run using Waze.

If you want other apps, you can find the apps that are supported by Waze listed below the ones you already have. You have the option to install them from there.

To control music in Waze

1. Open the Waze app.

2. Tap the pink floating music note icon.

3. Select an app from your list. Waze does not have a default player, as you select which one you want when you open the music player.

4. The first time you use each app, you will need to accept the permissions.

5. When the app establishes a connection, press Play.

6. To change apps, tap “Audio apps” at the top of the screen and select a different player.

7. To see a list of options for the current player, tap “Show list” at the bottom of the player.


Remember, it is still risky to change apps or playlists while driving, but these new features in Google Maps and Waze make it almost as easy as changing a channel on the radio. Enjoy the music, and be careful out there.

Tracey Rosenberger
Tracey Rosenberger

Tracey Rosenberger spent 26 years teaching elementary students, using technology to enhance learning. Now she's excited to share helpful technology with teachers and everyone else who sees tech as intimidating.

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