Google is getting rid of the Android Auto app in favour of a new Assistant Driving Mode. It introduces a newer way to use your phone on the go from a phone mount if you drive an older vehicle that was built before the modern infotainment system, but don't worry if you're used to using your Android phone through the touchscreen on your car.
The Android Auto app is different from the Android Auto that is integrated into your vehicle's infotainment system. It was a stand-alone app that worked only on your phone and was useful for drivers who used a dashboard mount. The app offered a simplified interface for maps and a few other hands-free software offerings designed to limit distractions while on the go.
Google first announced Assistant Driving Mode more than two years ago, but delays meant that the transition took longer than expected. 9to5Google reports that Assistant Driving Mode has finally arrived with the introduction of Android 12 and will now work on compatible Android OS devices.
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If you tell the Google Assistant to "launch driving mode" or say "let's drive" it will automatically launch a new assistant screen. The priority is on Google Maps for navigation, but it also allows one-touch access and voice control to let you send a message, make a call, or play music through one of your existing audio or podcast apps. A toolbar button lets you quickly return to the map screen for directions.
The previous app was also popular with cyclists, motorcyclists, and all-terrain vehicle riders, which don't have screens, so the system's simple interface offered an improved way for those motor to access device features on the move.
The new app appears to offer those users, as well as those using it in their vehicles, more flexibility and better hands-free options. It has started popping up on Android devices, so expect it soon or look for an update.