Driving Assistant mode drops Google Maps, no longer like Android Auto

Driving Assistant mode drops Google Maps, no longer like Android Auto

In May 2019, Google Assistant Driving Mode was announced to replace Android Auto for phone screens. The launch was slow, with the previous experience not disappearing until June of this year. Assisted driving mode now loses Google Maps integration and this significantly changes the experience to the point where it is no longer an alternative to Android Auto.

When the drive mode was announced at I/O 2019, the Assistant seemed to be in a position to take on more user- and brand-facing experiences. The user interface that was introduced at the time to replace the phone-based Android Auto looked like a natural extension of the Assistant Snapshot feed and smart screens.

Google originally intended to launch it in the summer of 2019, but that was long overdue. Meanwhile, Google released “Android Auto for phone screens” as a temporary measure, as the official Android Auto experience (on cars) has been redesigned and is no longer suitable for phone screens.

Assisted driving mode didn’t arrive until November 2020. This initial availability was limited to Google Maps. The actual main screen and interface feed that was shown at I/O 2019 did not appear until September 2021. Meanwhile, “Android Auto for Phone Screens” was not shut down until Android 12 and could no longer be launched for newer devices. Google continued to shut down Android Auto to everyone’s phone screens in June 2022.

Version 13.39 of the Google app, which is currently in beta, contains the following “Sunset_message”:

The driving display will be disabled on November 21, 2022; Use Google Maps for hands-free navigation in the future.

“Driving screen” – as the company said 9to5Google Today – Refers to the Maps card that originally appeared on top of Driving mode when Navigation was active. This will be gone next month, and in fact no longer works on devices running the beta Google apps we checked out today.

“Driving screen” / Google Maps card in red

Instead, Google is now directing people to use the full-screen enhanced driving mode found in the Google Maps app after starting car directions.

If you turn on Driving mode today and enter a location in the search field, Google Maps opens. You have to keep using that interface as you get an assistant button on the bottom left, while the player is on the right to quickly play YouTube Music, Google Podcasts, Play Books, and other compatible services.

Once in this user interface, there is no way to return normally to the driving mode main screen. However, if you do this using the Home screen icon shortcut, Google Maps (3rd screenshot below) will appear as a Picture-in-Picture (PiP) rather than a card that fits normally with the music controls and shortcuts for calling/texting.

This floating window makes for a very poor user experience, even though Google shouldn’t want you to access PiP and Drive Mode at the same time.

Driving mode today

With this change, Driving Mode is no longer a true alternative to Android Auto. It only works as a shortcut to Google Maps, while the real use is larger media controls.

This comes because Driving Mode was generally seen as an older version compared to Android Auto. It wasn’t as simple as tapping the “Android Auto” icon in the app launcher, despite adding a home screen shortcut at the end, but it stayed buried deep in the experience.

Meanwhile, it also comes at a time when Google Assistant is slowly moving away from projects that aren’t just focused on voice assistant functionality as we’ve seen with the disappearance of Snapshot, the recent launch of Look and Talk, as well as quick phrases.

L: Android Auto | R: Improved user interface for driving in Google Maps

ben sean and Dylan Russell Contribute to this article.

FTC: We use affiliate links to earn income. more.


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