Android Auto on phones reaches the end of the road… but Google Maps is a stellar replacement

Driving Assistant Mode paves the road ahead for Google's in-car navigation service

Android Auto
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Google recently announced its plans to close the Android Auto app and fold it into Google Maps. No longer, then, is there to be an Android Auto standalone app, as Google has decided to streamline everything into a single offering. Powered by Google Maps, this new offering is called Assistant Driving Mode. Now, some users have reported that it has begun to roll out in the Android 12 beta.

With 'Assistant Driving Mode' set to replace Android Auto, you would've thought that Google could come up with a sexier name. Seemingly, though, this isn't the case. But as long as it works, we don't mind, and nor do the select users that have variously reported being able to already access the new mode through Google Assistant.  

Gizmodo says that certain users of the Android 12 beta, which may launch early in full on Google Pixel handsets, can use the Driving Assistant Mode by issuing several voice commands. Some beta users have reported that “Let’s drive,” “Start driving mode,” amongst other voice commands to Google Assistant, activate the new Driving Assistant Mode. 

The new driving mode provides a “car-optimized experience that offers easy access to essential capabilities behind the wheel,” which roughly translates to the ability to easily place phone calls, play music, and send messages. Certainly, the new UI is slick: Assistant Driving Mode's homescreen is entirely powered by the Google app, though you will spend most of your time on Google Maps. That's according to 9to5Google, which shared some screenshots of the refreshed UI.

Assistant Driving Mode

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

Provided you have a compatible device and access to the beta, you can see if the Driving Assistant Mode works for you by following the details on Google's official support page. If you were an avid Android Auto user, then it's well worth getting acquainted with this new service now that Android Auto is set to be discontinued.

It’s no secret that Android Auto had its fair share of technical problems before Google formally announced it was shutting the app down. Still, this hasn't discouraged Google from working on fixes for several annoying issues, which is always good to see. Stay tuned for more info on how old Android Auto features will manifest in the new UI. Fingers crossed it'll be a bug-free and seamless transition powered by the mighty navigation force that is Google Maps.

Luke Wilson
Luke Wilson

Luke covers all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets)