Most modern vehicle head units are fitted with Android Auto these days, but if you don’t have a compatible radio, Google provides a standalone app that simulated the experience: an interface that only allows access the most important messaging, music, and calling apps while doing it in a way that minimizes distractions. However, last year at Google I/O, the company announced a new driving mode was coming, and its now rolling out to Android users in the US.
The new driving mode is like if Android Auto was fused into Google Maps, with an emphasis on Google Assistant. There is a prompt in Google Maps just before beginning a navigation route that introduces the new interface. This is essentially an add-on bar at the very bottom of the navigation window.
There’s a shortcut for the assistant at the lower-left corner, and a new shortcut for apps appears on the lower-right. Users also get super-simplified music control. The title of the current podcast or song appears, and there’s a skip button to keep the tracklist moving. The downside is that it doesn’t have a button to skip backward but it is meant to reduce distraction. By default, this mode will appear as soon as you begin navigating, and it will also automatically enable Do Not Disturb. Users can still receive messages from apps and reply to them by voice. Phone calls won’t also take up the entire screen so you can keep your eyes on the map.
What do you think of this new feature? Do you think it’ll be a good replacement for Android Auto?