Google’s Android Auto Adds New Features to Phones and Cars
Google plans to shut down the Android Auto app for Android phones and has created a new way to navigate using Google Assistant in Google Maps. Today Google announced its new Google Assistant driving mode for Android phones gets a new dashboard that’s easier to use hands-free and won’t require you to set a destination in Maps to get started. Assistant driving mode will be included in Android 12 when it rolls out in the coming weeks, and the new dashboard will also be available on phones that can’t upgrade to 12.
All you have to say is “Hey Google, let’s drive” and the new Driving Mode launcher will appear on the regular home screen. You can also set a preferred Bluetooth device to bring up the driving mode after you turn on your car and before you hit the road. You can know more about how to configure it here.
It’s important to note that this change is specific to Android phones, not the in-dash version of Android Auto on your car display. If your car doesn’t have an in-dash display, you can use the phone version as a substitute, and this update will make it easier.
Google calls the Assistant driving mode part of its “voice ahead” approach to helping people use their devices safely while behind the wheel. The company has been working on the transition of the Android Auto app for phones since November 2020, when it launched the original Assistant driving mode in the Google Maps app. The difference now is that the feature will be part of Android 12, and it’s no longer a standalone feature. It will also not be available to users of iOS devices.
Like the soon-to-be-phased Android Auto app for smartphones, you can still read notifications aloud as they arrive by asking Google to turn on. autoplay. Automatic recommendations will appear on the map whether you are in navigation mode, as will entertainment recommendations from apps you have installed on your smartphone. The new Google Assistant driving mode will also work with third-party car accessories like the Roav Bolt.
New features in the Assistant Driving Mode will start rolling out over the next few weeks, both as part of Android 12 and as an update for phones on older Android software. Google has said that users who rely on older versions of the Android Auto app or the Assistant driving mode in Google Maps will be “guided to this experience”, but the app will remain in the Play at the store for the moment. If you upgrade to Android 12, the Android Auto phone app will disappear.
Android Auto changes coming in the car
Google is also bringing new features to Android Auto on car screens. The assistant will start offering more music, news, and podcast recommendations on the main screen, and they can switch apps on the screen with a voice command. Android Dual-SIM users will also be able to switch between different phone numbers. And Android Auto will support in-car work profiles, so you’ll see meeting and route details embedded in the rest of your life.
While it might seem like the opposite of the whole hands-free part of using Android Auto, Google also offers on-screen games, but only after Android Auto detects that your car is parked. GameSnacks The games are designed to help people pass the time while they are waiting, for example, in the school queue. It is also to discourage you from getting your hands on your smartphone.
Another feature to watch out for in Android Auto is the ability to pay for gasoline using just your voice. Shout “pay for gasoline” and the assistant will ask for your pump number before starting the transaction in Google Pay. Hands-free payment capability will be available at more than 32,500 service stations when it begins to roll out, starting with select Exxon and Mobile stations. Google plans to eventually add support for Shell, Conoco, Phillips 66 and 76 stations over time.
Google integrated directly into the car
Google has announced that Honda will begin using the Android Automotive platform in models like the Civic starting in 2022. Honda joins Ford, General Motors, Polestar, Renault and Volvo by offering Android Automotive in its vehicles.
Android Automotive works directly in the car and is more integrated with the rest of the hardware. You can use Android Automotive to control the parts of the car that you can’t use with classic Android Auto, like the HVAC and the instrument cluster.
Electric vehicles will also benefit from new features in Android Automotive. The operating system will display more targeted information, such as the locations of charging stations and whether they are readily available.
As a long-time user of the Android Auto smartphone app, since its debut in 2015, I’m happy to hear that much-needed changes are being made to the way Android handles in-car infotainment. The transition has not been easy for those of us with silly cars without screens. The Assistant driving mode in Google Maps remains very limited compared to the Android Auto app for phones, at least until the updated Assistant driving mode is rolled out. It’s clear that the app hasn’t received a significant update for a long time, and has nothing to do with Android Auto’s polish in the dashboard.
I’m curious how quickly the change will happen and if it will be as smooth for non-Pixel smartphones that won’t upgrade to Android 12 on day one. For now, it looks like I will continue to use the Android Auto app for phones until Assistant Driven Riding Mode is a sure thing on my device.