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Android Auto Reactivates Google Assistant Routines After 2-Year Absence

Google has updated Android Auto with new and returning Google Assistant features. Drivers can now add custom shortcuts for Google Assitant orders and reviving Google Assistant routines, multiple tasks linked to a single command, after removing the feature more than two years ago.

Routine Drives

Android Auto added Google Assistant a little over three years ago, and routines were available just as they would be when using the voice assistant in other contexts. Then, in the fall of 2018, Google disabled routines, with the voice assistant telling users Android Auto did not support them. Google didn’t announce any plans to bring the function back, but the new version of Android Auto has restored routines to its feature list.

Meanwhile, the custom shortcuts provide control over Google Assistant, but with a button instead of a voice command. If the driver wants to be quiet while using Android Auto or has a complicated order that they use often, the shortcut can simplify and speed up interactions. The shortcuts can be set up in the customize launcher page of the settings. The shortcuts can call a contact or activate any Google Assistant command, with freeform typing letting users personalize whatever they want the voice assistant to do in the car or with connected smart home devices, including starting up the newly returned routines. It’s basically a car-friendly version of Android Action Blocks, the accessibility feature introduced in 2019 that embeds Google Assistant orders into a button on Android.

Google Shifts Gears

Google has been accelerating its automotive ambitions this year, and the deeper Android Auto connection to Google Assistant with shortcuts and routines is a natural part of that road. Both features can take advantage of the new Samsung SmartThings app for Android Auto, a recent aspect of the new partnership between SmartThings and Google Nest, for instance. And they are part of the new Google Assistant Driving Mode, which has been testing large tiles like the shortcuts. It also enables Google Assistant to announce incoming calls and read incoming text messages, giving drivers the option to take calls or dictate text responses. Android Auto is not the native integration of Android Automotive, which Groupe PSA is installing in its cars starting in 2023, or as deep as Google’s Android Automotive OS, which Ford is also adding in 2023. Still, improvements like this will likely help Google Assistant appeal to users who want to use the voice assistant while driving, even if the car they prefer works with Cerence or Alexa.


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