Google Will End Android Auto on Phones for Google Assistant Driving Mode in Android 12 Update
Google will sunset Android Auto on smartphones in favor of Google Assistant Driving Mode, which first rolled out late last year. The switch will complete once Android 12 is fully disseminated, with some users have already found Android Auto vanishing from their smartphones ahead of time.
Google Assistant Driving Mode revamps Android Auto on smartphones. Drivers can ask the voice assistant to launch Driving Mode and see large tiles representing common actions that can be activated by touch as well as by voice command. The interface aims to limit the time and focus on the screen necessary for operating the apps. Google Assistant announces incoming calls, and drivers can accept or decline them. Google Assistant will also read incoming text messages out loud, and drivers can dictate responding texts if they choose. The media control commands are the same for YouTube Music and other streaming services. First previewed at I/O 2019, Driving Mode ended up getting delayed until it arrived in preview form in tandem with a burst of Google Maps updates. The Android Auto appearing on people’s phones acted as a stopgap during the delay but is no longer necessary.
“Google Assistant driving mode is our next evolution of the mobile driving experience. For the people who use Android Auto in supported vehicles, that experience isn’t going away,” Google explained in a statement. “For those who use the on phone experience (Android Auto mobile app), they will be transitioned to Google Assistant driving mode. Starting with Android 12, Google Assistant driving mode will be the built-in mobile driving experience.”
Like Amazon’s Alexa Auto Mode, Google is using Driving Mode as a way to keep people using its voice assistant when on the road if it’s not built into the vehicle. That’s where most of Google Assistant’s vehicular expansion has been. For instance, Google Assistant secured a deal with Ford in February to bring Google Assistant to its upcoming models. The company also added compatibility with Cerence and its enormous fleet of users earlier this year, all just a few months after making an exclusive deal with Groupe PSA. A more subtle upgrade came with the new connection to the Samsung SmartThings app for Android Auto, an aspect of the growing partnership between SmartThings and Google Nest. The return of Routines to Google Assistant on Android Auto after a two-year absence may also get and keep more drivers using Google Assistant.