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Okay Google! Get set for the new Driving Assistant

Google Assistant Driving Mode
Representative image only (Image credit: Google)
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Google has been working on replacing its Android Auto mode on smartphones with something more intuitive and jazzy. The first we heard about it was a year ago at the I/O conference and it seems the company is all set to launch its "Google Assistant Driving Mode" experience soon. 

Published reports indicate that the recent beta update to the Google app is actually enabling the new Driving Mode and those who have downloaded it could get a preview of how things would look and work when the launch happens. 

However, Google has been obstinately silent about letting us know dates for the launch with their support page continuing to redirect users to the Android Auto page. Last year, we had reported about how Google Assistant was giving the silent treatment to Android Auto, and a year on, nothing's changed. 

A report in 9to5Google says that the latest version of the Google app beta version 11.31 has provided the onboarding experience of the Assistant Driving Mode. The onboarding UI remains dark irrespective of the theme settings. The Google Assistant can make and answer calls besides reading incoming messages aloud while muting other notifications. 

google assistant driving mode

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

The screens indicate that Google Maps navigation would get integrated deeper into the new driving model with the screenshot looking quite attractive and in sync with some designs of an upgraded Google Maps that have been going around. There are also indications that the quick controls for other driving experiences such as media, phone calls and text will be on the settings menu.

This appears to be quite a shift from the Android Auto app experience on the phone that got projected to the car's infotainment display. Google had announced in 2019 that this would change, though was silent on the how's of it. It went on and launched a dedicated Android auto for phone screens, which indicated the presence of a new driving mode on Google Assistant for the first time. 

google assistant driving mode

(Image credit: 9to5Google)

What happens to Android Auto?

So, what would happen to Android Auto once the new drive mode gets launched? Once again, 9to5Google's APK Insight team once again decompiled the latest version of the application on Google Store. And the results appeared to suggest that the app could well coexist with the new driving mode. 

The newest version appears to allow users access to more Google Assistant routines on the Android Auto app. Currently users can access their calendar and news, while in the updated version it appears to allow them to save more common queries. 

This means that Google isn't really in a mood to let Android Auto die just yet, which is good news for users who are quite happy with its UI and experience. 

Raj Narayan

A media veteran who turned a gadget lover fairly recently. An early adopter of Apple products, Raj has an insatiable curiosity for facts and figures which he puts to use in research. He engages in active sport and retreats to his farm during his spare time.