Android Auto AI

Android Auto Re-Centers Voice AI With Google Assistant Message Summaries, Maps Driving Mode Shutdown

Google will soon revamp Android Auto to enhance voice interactions and limit visual focus, based on code preparations revealed by 9to5 Google. The updates will give Google Assistant the ability to summarize incoming messages by leveraging generative AI models while Google Maps sunsets its Driving Mode interface, a relic of the Assistant Driving Mode Google removed last year.

Android Auto AI Secretary

The strings of code show a new Android Auto feature that will engage Google Assistant to not just read individual messages to a driver, but process busy conversations and multiple messages into a concise summary. The summaries would condense long text message threads and other chats into shortened voice readouts, allowing users to get the gist without being distracted from the road. The capability mirrors existing Google products like Google Chat, which can recap Spaces conversations to catch users up.

However, its Android Auto integration represents a new frontier for potentially error-prone AI to summarize sensitive messages. While auto-generated summaries may cut down on distraction, inaccuracies could prove dangerous depending on the content. Google Assistant will warn users that the “summaries will be generated by artificial intelligence, so it’s possible there could be mistakes.” Users can turn off the summarization feature at any time through Android Auto’s settings menu.

At the same time Google is expanding Assistant’s role in the car, it appears to be backing away from the specialized Driving Mode in Maps, first introduced in 2019. Additional code suggests the dedicated driving view within Maps will be removed entirely sometime in February 2024. In its place, prompts will push users to “tap the mic to use Assistant” for hands-free calling, messaging, and media playback while navigating. Google seems to believe intelligent voice interactions will provide a safer in-car experience than a tailored on-screen view.

The combination paints a clear picture of Google’s interest in pushing drivers towards more voice-guided Assistant interactions over touchscreen options. The plans also mark how Google is still navigating a strategy for in-car technology. While the company previously developed a specialized driving mode, it now wants to consolidate navigation assistance with a voice assistant and generative AI models. That tracks with the Android Auto upgrades from the beginning of this year. Those proactive suggestions and reminders from Google Assistant and voice shortcuts for environmental and entertainment control fit with the promise of more natural conversational interactions via generative AI.

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