Google Maps new driving mode makes it easier to play music, make calls and more

Google Assistant Driving Mode is like KITT from Knight Rider!

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(Image credit: Google)

Google is slowly rolling out a new Google Maps feature to more Android users. Having first appeared in the US late last year, it is now available in Germany and should be coming to more countries soon.

Called Google Assistant Driving Mode, the feature combines Google Maps with the Google Assistant. This results in the navigation view we are all familiar with, but also a Google Assistant interface. This can be used to make phone calls, answer incoming calls, send messages and play music, all by speaking to the Assistant and keeping your hands on the wheel.

We think this update is a great way to bring more functions to the Google Maps app, but in a safe and hands-free way, since everything is handled by the Assistant. Just say: “Hey Google” to get its attention, then ask the assistant to make a call, send a message or play music.

This is much like how Android Auto works, but for cars that don’t have that fitted we think Google Maps with Google Assistant Driving Mode makes for a great substitute.

The new feature is exclusive to Android, since iPhones have their own voice assistant in the form of Siri, and your handset needs to be running Android 9 or newer and have at least 4GB of RAM. Driving Mode rolled out in the US in December and landed in Germany earlier in April, so hopefully, Android fans in other users won’t have to wait long to try it out for themselves.

At a time when car manufacturers are adding more and more key systems to touchscreens, arguably making them more distracting, we like how Google is offering a simpler alternative by integrating the Assistant with its own mapping app. 

We’ll be interested to see if Apple does the same thing by blending Siri with the Apple Maps app in the future.

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Alistair Charlton

Alistair is a freelance automotive and technology journalist. He has bylines on esteemed sites such as the BBC, Forbes, TechRadar, and of best of all, T3, where he covers topics ranging from classic cars and men's lifestyle, to smart home technology, phones, electric cars, autonomy, Swiss watches, and much more besides. He is an experienced journalist, writing news, features, interviews and product reviews. If that didn't make him busy enough, he is also the co-host of the AutoChat podcast.